Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
After more than two months in acting capacity, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to end the illegal siege on the Judiciary by immediately sending the name of Justice Walter Onoghen to the Senate for confirmation as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The rights group warned that the illegal substitution of Onoghen would further polarise the nation along ethnic lines.
The National Coordinator of the group, Emmanuel Onwubiko made the call at a press conference in Abuja, where he stressed that Nigeria should be run equitably, alleging that the game plan was gradually being unfolded in the Judiciary to appoint a northerner as the CJN
According to him: “as it is now, the failure of President Buhari to respect the recommendation of Justice Onoghen as CJN in a substantive way as made by the National Judicial Council (NJC) since two months ago shows a clear Northern regional agenda to circumvent the long existing hierarchical mapping of the Judiciary in Nigeria just so a puppet, stooge and boot licker of the executive can be picked to do the political dirty job of the current presidency.”
He warned that, “the illegal substitution of Onoghen to achieve political agenda by the political powers-that-be dominated by former local leaders of Arewa Consultative Assembly
will further polarize the country along ethno-religious fault lines and this sinister project will in a very serious way injure the integrity and constitutional standing of the Judiciary.”
Onwubiko noted: “the deliberate delay in submitting the name of the next in line in the succession plan of the NJC has given rise to wild speculations that just like how President Buhari single handedly gave all the top defence positions to Hausa/Fulani Northern Muslims, that there is a sinister plot to bypass Justice Onoghen for a Northerner from Bauchi State”
“If this is carried out as speculated therefore the integrity, respectability, status and global judicial purification role of the Court System would have been politically tainted and contaminated.
“We are in the know that there is indeed serious efforts from Northern hawks to alter the seniority rule that should automatically make the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria the substantive CJN.
“Why for the first time in over 30 years did the President fail to submit the name to Senate for confirmation as substantive CJN as was constitutionally recommended by the rightful authority- NJC?,”he queried Onwuibiko, lamenting that Onoghen’s confirmation occasioned by taciturn action of Buhari was weakening the integrity of the court system.
He said Section 6 of the Constitution is specific on the role of the Court system in the smooth running of constitutional democracy and if by political design the hierarchy of the Court system is unduly politicised then the public standing of the Judiciary is put on the spots.