The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has reacted to the petition to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, against the Chief Judge of the Nation, Mr. Walter Onnoghen.
In a statement he signed titled: A Clarion Call In Defence Of Our Constitution, the former Vice-President, condemned the Buhari government, saying the president has become desperate just four weeks to the election.
Below is the statement:
A Clarion Call In Defence Of Our Constitution
I have received the news of the sudden charges about to be filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with apprehension and suspicion especially as such a move against the head of an arm of our government is coming so close to an election in which the Buhari administration has shown growing desperation.
My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty and note that a media trial is no trial.
If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration. The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.
Any attempt to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate his office, 4 weeks to an election for which the unpopular Buhari administration has shown every intention to manipulate, is a move pregnant with negative meaning.
I see no reason whatsoever for the ongoing pressure by the Buhari government to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate office when he has not been convicted for any offence.
Nigerians may recall that this government has a history of manipulating the law against the heads of arms of government it considers unfriendly to its cause. A case in point is their malicious prosecution and persecution of the Senate President, Distinguished Senator Bukola Saraki.
I therefore call on the President to respect the principle of separation of powers and abide by the rule of law on this matter and stop any interference or pressure on Justice Walter Onnoghen or the judiciary and allow the law and the constitution take its full course.
Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007
Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party