By Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
Catholic Action Nigeria, a global movement in the Catholic Church has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the rule of law and reverse the suspension order on the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen in order to pull the country from the brink of crisis.
The group also urged the acting Chief Justice Tanko Mohammed to respect the authority of the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) and cease to act in such capacity but rather work in tandem with the NJC to save the judiciary from what it described as executive intimidation and lawlessness.
In a statement jointly issued on Sunday by the Chairman of Board of Trustees
Catholic Action Nigeria, Peter I. Agbontaen and Vice Chairman, Joseph Adom Kyaagba, the group expressed concern about “the impending potential dangers that this conflict portends to the disruption of the 2019 general elections, our democracy, national unity, national security”.
It expressed shock at the dramatic suspension of the CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Catholic Action Nigeria will never condone any breach of the law by any person or institution including the CJN. However, Catholic Action Nigeria urges restraint and compliance with the rule of law at all times,” it said.
It further called on all judicial officers especially of superior courts and the NBA to rise up in defence of the judiciary by refusing to acknowledge the authority of the acting CJN and insist that the president reverses himself “in this ill-advised venture and follow due process of law in resolving the matter.”
The group also urged the suspended CJN to seek judicial interpretation and challenge his suspension in the court even as it urged the National Assembly to take immediate drastic actions to remedy the situation.
“We urge all Nigerians to rise up in one accord to condemn this executive lawlessness and constitutional breach.
“Nigerians are however, advised not to embark on any form of violence as an expression of displeasure, as that will fuel anarchy which is counter to our aspirations for a truly one Nigeria,” said the group.
Meanwhile, as reactions continue to trail the CJN’s suspension, a former National Secretary, Labour Party (LP) and founder, Egalitarian Mission of Africa, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, has advised the embattled judicial officer to honourably resign in the interest of Nigeria.
Ajulo, the brain behind the pro-President Muhammadu Buhari re-election movement, ‘Forward with Buhari’ said, faced with allegations relating to corruption, Onnoghen should have resigned.
According to him, “In more civilised climes, the CJN ought to have resigned but he refused to do so. What you are seeing today is probably because of the office or person involved. Of course, it is expected because most of the senior lawyers today defending what is indefensible may be, have some interests, but I believe that one day we will start interrogating such interests.