Hundred ops of protesters including lawyers, opposition politicians, civil society groups, under the aegis of National Interest Defenders, students and youth activists on Monday stormed the headquarters of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja to protest what they called the unconstitutional suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The aggrieved protesters, who were led by the Spokesperson of Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, also stormed Embassies of the United States and the United kingdom, the United Nations and the NJC Headquarters.
Ugochinyere while addressing the press during the protest said it was shameful that President Buhari relied on the use of “forged and fictitious” tribunal order to purportedly suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria and appoint a “factional chief justice” while knowing that the order was forged and fictitious.
He lamented that the President had viciously, brutally and gruesomely violated the constitution which he swore to uphold.
He said, “This is an act that amounts to gross misconduct and it most certainly warrants his removal from office. The National Assembly should as a matter of urgency and patriotism commence without delay the impeachment process of the President.
“The swearing in of a CJN called Tanko Mohammed was an act of treason, the tribunal order purportedly used was a forged document issued by Danladi Umar and backdated to even a date before the main charge was filed.”
“The National Assembly should immediately commence action for the removal from office of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, who having criminal charges against him and still sits in office dumped Nigeria in a state of constitutional hiatus by criminally ordering the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.”
Speaking further, he called on the NJC and NBA to order the shutdown of the courts until the illegal suspension of Onnoghen is lifted and acting CJN Tanko Mohammed made to vacate the office.
“The NJC must expel Justice Tanko from the bench for accepting an illegal appointment in violation of the constitution and the NJC rules of engagement. The NBA must direct lawyers to boycott the Code of Conduct Tribunal presided over by Danladi Umar until disciplinary action is served on Umar for issuing a fake order that paved way for the impunity.”
Ugochinyere also raised alarm on an alleged ongoing plot to manufacture petitions against the the most senior justices of the Supreme Court to ensure their removal through the back door, to pave way for final annexation of Supreme Court.
He urged the NBA to call on the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to resign for being complicit in the Constitutional breach and face the disciplinary committee of the bar for disciplinary actions.
He added that no provision in section 157 and 292 of the 1999 constitution as amended supports the President in purporting to suspend the CJN and that Nigerians must take a stand to ensure that the sacred institution of the Judiciary is protected and restored.
Meanwhile, a counter-protest was held at the National Secretariat of the Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja, in support of Buhari’s suspension of Onnoghen.
The protesters, under the banner of ‘One Nigeria,’ said the President’s action was in the interest of the country.
They argued that a corrupt judicial officer is a burden on the nation and must be shown the way out.
In related development, the News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Coalition of Arewa Youths Groups, on Monday held a rally in Kaduna in support of the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen, erstwhile Chief Justice of Nigeria, over allegations of false assets declaration.
However, Ahmed Ibrahim, who read the speech of the coalition, said Buhari was right in his action, stressing that it would send strong signals “down the line” to those still enmeshed in corrupt practices.
The coalition added: “It is most disheartening that some people have decided to politicize corruption.
“Those that have turned a clear court case of corruption into a political issue by claiming that the suspension of the CJN was meant to incapacitate the opposition are not been fair to the rest of us.”
The coalition also dismissed those imputing religion into the Onnoghen case as ungodly, saying “all faiths condemn bribe taking, false declaration and duplicity.”
They urged President Buhari not to relent in his pursuit of corrupt public officers including those in the judiciary.
The northern youths said Nigerians should allow the law to take its full course with regards to the case against Onnoghen.
“Let Mr president note that this critical mass of Nigerians are behind him; that the mandate they have given him to clean the country of sleaze cannot be undermined by corrupt politicians even if they successfully recruit other countries to swell their ranks.”