The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) says the news of the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), is “a coup against democracy”.

Onnoghen’s suspension was announced on Friday evening by President Muhammadu Buhari. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed was sworn in as the acting CJN.

A statement by Eric Omare, the IYC President, noted that the move is desperation taken too far.

The statement read: “This is a coup against democracy and the rule of law. Nigeria is under a constitutional democracy that is governed by the rule of law and the action by President Buhari lacks foundation in law. President Buhari lacks the powers to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria without the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and it is even unthinkable to suspend Justice Onnoghen in the light of the multiple valid and subsisting orders of the National Industrial Court, Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, which bars the Code of Conduct Tribunal from going on with the trial of Justice Onnoghen.

“President Buhari claimed to have acted pursuant to an order of the CCT made on January 23, 2019. However, from the records of proceedings of the CCT, no such order was made. The pending motions are yet to be taken, hence it is surprising for the President to be relying on a non-existing order.

“This is desperation taken too far and the IYC in the strongest terms condemns this display of impunity by President Buhari. This is the height of lawlessness and the greatest threat to democratic rule in Nigeria. The IYC calls on President Buhari to immediately reverse this illegal, despicable and undemocratic decision.

“We also call on Nigerians and all lovers of democracy all over the world to rise up and defend our democracy in Nigeria. Anti-democratic forces who truncated democracy in the past must not be allowed to truncate democracy again.”