By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as unfortunate and unacceptable the concerns expressed
by the international community over the suspension of the Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen and its perceived impact on the forthcoming general election.
The ruling party said the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, were angry over President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspension of Onnoghen
because of its plan to use the tribunals to steal the people’s mandate in the presidential election.
In a statement issued on Monday by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, the party said that it was completely untenable to insinuate any attempt on the part of the government to rig elections.
“Against the backdrop of statements by some foreign concerns over Justice Onnoghen’s suspension vis-a-vis forthcoming general elections, we strongly advise that they are abreast with our laws and procedures. A situation where these foreign concerns come across as meddling or being misled or influenced by bogus partisan narratives is unfortunate and unacceptable,” it said.
APC said both PDP and Atiku had been asking the international community to intervene in Justice Onnoghen’s suspension as if the international community were not supportive of the fight against corruption.
The party said that its resolve was to do away with a situation “where the rich and powerful are above the law; a Nigeria riddled with corruption and disregard for set down rules and laws as enshrined in the constitution; a Nigeria where institutions of government are manipulated and exploited for the benefit of a few privileged.
“Our firm commitment to ridding the country of corruption and ensuring credible electioneering processes remains resolute.”
While alleging that the PDP and Atiku have perfected plans to use the judiciary as a trump card to hijack the electoral process and assume power, APC said president Buhari’s move had put a wedge to it.
It said: “For one, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike’s hold on Justice Onnoghen and a few others in the Judiciary is well-known. This was their trump card to hijack power post-election. It is clear that Justice Onnoghen’s suspension has devastated the PDP as their plans to get back to power through the “cash and carry” justice system they put in place during their unfortunate 16 years reign is in serious jeopardy.
“In citing the election tribunals as reason for Justice Onnoghen’s suspension, has Atiku given himself away on his now busted plot to use the tribunals to steal the people’s mandate in the presidential election he knows he will lose?”
With regard to criticisms against Justice Onnoghen’s suspension, APC said the Chief Justice was accused of non declaration of assets; a requirement by law for every public officer.
According to the APC, Justice Onnoghen had personally admitted that he made a “mistake” and “forgot” to declare his assets.
It said that in the spirit of good conscience, integrity, character and general conduct expected of occupants of public office, APC expected Justice Onnoghen to have resigned immediately to face his trial after his confession and spare the Judiciary further disrepute.