By Omo Ighodalo, Abuja
South-South Media Professionals Forum, SSMPF, has condemned the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari and described it not only as coup against democracy, but a deliberate attempt to short-change the south-south region in all ramifications.
In a statement signed by the Director Media and Publicity of the Forum, Ambrose Inusa Sule stated that the suspension was another act to remove one its sons by President Buhari to further alienate the region in appointments and resources.We noted that by the suspension of Onnoghen, President Buhari had acted outside the provision of the constitution, exercised the powers which he does not have and that this action amounted to gross misconduct and an affront to the South-South.
“This action is capable of undermining the nation’s judiciary, subverting the constitution, intimidating judges of all the courts of record, and creating uncertainty in the electoral process.
“We do know that our constitution makes no provision for suspension of the nation’s highest judicial officer. The constitution provides a clear process for removal of the CJN and specify the roles of the three arms of government, beginning from the National Judicial Council (NJC), the National Assembly and lastly, the Presidency, have different roles to play in that process.
A Forum made up of media practitioners representing different media organizations frowned on this action, President Buhari has initiated a process the consequence of which nobody can predict. They have precipitated a constitutional crisis.
We are calling on President Buhari to immediately reverse this decision and allow the due process of law to take its natural course in determining the guilt or otherwise as well as the suitability of Hon. Justice Onnoghen to continue as the head of the nation’s judiciary.
The statement said, “Not long ago Matthew Seiyefa was removed as the Director-General of the State Security Service by President Muhammadu Buhari just because he is from the south-south geo-political zone. No sooner was he removed than Mr President replaced him with Yusu Bichi another northerner who was also on retirement.
“President Buhari’s recent action has further shown that he does not believe in a united Nigeria in which state duties are conducted with fairness and equity.
“Seiyifa’s removal was that Mr Buhari needed to appoint someone he feels more comfortable with ahead of 2019 elections. And again, samething is playing out in case of Onnoghen that cannot be trusted to do the dirty jobs for Buhari’s government.
“By this Mr Buhari has dismantled all precedents that engendered a united Nigeria in order to satisfy his sectional inclinations.
“Mr Buhari has continued in his usual way of his unrepentant lop-sidedness in his appointments, especially into security and law enforcement agencies which he often pushes back against this claim by pointing to some appointments he made from the south.
Since 1960, Nigeria has never had a leader more sectional, narrow, parochial, and tribalistic like the current President who went on a global stage to divide Nigeria into “97 % and 5%”.
The only qualification for this appointment is therefore only the rabid nepotism of the President which has seen him always masking personal and sectional interest as “national interest.”
That the President went ahead to deep himself further into the cocoon of ethnic irredentism in removing CJN Onoghen and replaced him again with another northerner shows clearly that he does not care a hoot about the unity, cohesion and oneness of Nigeria.
We reject this action of Mr President and we do not shy in telling Mr President that he no longer pretends that the country is one under him.