By Cletus Ukpong
Members of the recently inaugurated election tribunal were constituted by Walter Onnoghen before he was suspended under controversial circumstances as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammed, appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, inaugurated 250 members of the presidential and national assembly elections tribunal on Saturday.
The presidential and the national assembly elections will hold on February 16.
Mr Buhari is seeking re-election for a second term. His main challenger is Atiku Abubakar, a wealthy businessman and former vice president of Nigeria.
Mr Onnoghen, who is facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false declaration of assets, had announced his plan to inaugurate the tribunal. He was suspended a day before the inauguration.
The members of the tribunal “are the same, no difference,” the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hadizatu Mustapha, told PREMIUM TIMES Sunday morning, when asked if the names of the inaugurated members were different from the ones constituted by the suspended CJN.
The opposition has accused Mr Buhari of paving way for the rigging of the forthcoming elections, with the suspension of Mr Onnoghen.
Both Mr Onnoghen’s suspension and the inauguration of the tribunal by the acting CJN, Mr Muhammed, have been rejected by the opposition and several Nigerians who are concerned about the independence of the judiciary and the fate of constitutional democracy in the country.
There have been calls for the impeachment of President Buhari.