Protect Judiciary from Unconstitutional Policies, PDP Urges CJN

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Walter Onnoghen

•Urges INEC not to succumb to pressure on Zakari, Zamfara APC

By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to immediately protect the institution of judiciary from the unconstitutional and repressive fascist policies foisted on the system by the Muhammadu Buhari presidency.

The opposition party also called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, not to succumb to pressure by the Presidency to return Mrs. Amina Zakari as Director of Operations.

The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja Monday said that the admission by the Buhari presidency on Sunday that its obnoxious Executive Order 6, as well as the travel ban and trailing of citizens, are devised to directly interfere in judicial processes and stifle accused persons of resources, under the guise of speedy trial, has left no one in doubt that the nation is fast sliding into fascism.

The opposition party added that the Buhari presidency has commenced an attack on the independence of the judiciary, using the instrument of blackmail and aspersion on its integrity and capacity to effectively and timeously dispense justice.

The PDP stressed that the travel ban, trailing of citizens and attempt to regulate the processes of the court was therefore an attempt to short-circuit the constitutional powers of the judiciary and foist a fascist regime where the presidency becomes the investigator, prosecutor and the judge in the determination of trumped-up charges against innocent Nigerians.

Ologbondiyan stated: “In trying to use his Executive Order 6 to determine the process, procedures and progression of cases in court, the Buhari presidency directly seeks to usurp, commandeer and appropriate the constitutional powers of the judiciary and then arm-twist the courts and use them as ‘slaughterhouses’ for opposition members and perceived political opponents.”

The PDP called on Nigerians to note that the action of the Buhari presidency was a direct attempt to suspend sections 6 (6)(b), 36 (5), (6)(d) and 37 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Ologbondiyan noted that section 6 (6)(b) provides that judicial powers of the court shall ‘extend to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any person in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person”.

He added that Section 36(6)(d) provides that: “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defencE.”

The PDP stated categorically that it rejects this attempt by “this administration to return our country to pre-1984 military dictatorship where siege mentality and suppression of rights of citizens was the rule rather than the exception”.

The party urged the judiciary as the last hope of the common man, to immediately insulate itself from the evil machination of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is now trying to turn the judiciary into an instrument of oppression against Nigerians.

The opposition party also charged INEC not to change its statute-backed stand on the exclusion of Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from presenting candidates in the 2019 general election following its failure to conduct congresses.

The PDP cautioned that Nigerians are already aware of the pressure from the Buhari presidency to return Amina Zakari, a blood relation of President Buhari, as Director Operation so that they can use her to manipulate the electoral processes and rig the election for the president.

Ologbondiyan stated: “While the PDP notes the redeployment of Amina Zakari to another directorate, the party nevertheless, reaffirms its position that her continuous stay in the commission constitutes a threat to free, fair and credible 2019 general election, given her relationship with President Buhari, who is a major contender in the election.

“Amina Zakari’s removal as Director of Operations has been hailed by majority of Nigerians, a fact, which shows that voters had already lost confidence in her integrity to hold such a sensitive position, for which they prefer her outright removal from the commission.

“The case of Amina Zakari and that of Zamfara APC constitute another direct integrity test for Prof. Yakubu on his capacity, integrity and readiness for free, fair and credible general election in 2019.”

Ologbondiyan said that Nigerians are also already abreast of the provisions of the law leading to the exclusion of Zamfara State APC chapter from presenting candidates for the elections and we caution INEC against any contemplation to change the rules for the APC.

The PDP therefore charged Yakubu to ensure that he remains on the side of the people and take urgent steps to weed the commission of compromised officials, as Nigerians will accept nothing short of a transparent process in their quest for a replacement for the reckless, vindictive, incompetent and anti-people Buhari-led APC administration.