By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has urged the National Assembly to urgently reconvene and quash President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The group which is a coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, in a statement on Saturday, condemned President Buhari’s action, saying it was illegal and unconstitutional.
Justice Walter Onnoghen and President Buhari
“The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room condemns the action of President Muhammadu Buhari purporting to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen and replacing him with an acting Chief Justice.
“The action of the President is in violation of the Constitutional procedures for the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria as stipulated in section 292 of the Nigerian Constitution and represents a major threat to Nigeria’s democracy and a descent into Constitutional anarchy.
“The Constitution of Nigeria is explicit in stating that the Chief Justice of Nigeria may only be removed from Office upon a motion supported by two-thirds of members of the Nigeria Senate on specified grounds. In purporting to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria from Office, President Buhari has breached the Constitution and has acted with impunity and disdain for the rule of law, due process and constitutionality.
“The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse this unconstitutional and illegal action and refrain from interfering with the independence of the judiciary as clearly recognized by the Nigerian Constitution, especially with the general elections scheduled to hold in about three weeks.
“Situation Room also calls on the National Assembly to urgently reconvene in an emergency session and provide needed legislative response to this blatant challenge to our Constitution and democracy”, read the statement that was signed by convener of the CSOs, Mr. Clement Nwankwo.
The Situation Room is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, CITAD, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC, Proactive Gender Initiative, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), RECHDI, CWAE, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and\ NISD.
As well as Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Mac-Jim Foundation, Young Innovators of Vocational Training Initiative, Community Life Project/Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Alliance for Credible Election (ACE), Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), Nigerian Women Trust Fund, WREP, among others.