Opposition Parties, Lawyers Storm NBA Headquarters over Onnoghen’s Suspension

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)
  • Clash with pro-Tanko supporters

Udora Orizu in Abuja

Hundreds of opposition politicians, lawyers, civil society groups, under the aegis of National Interest Defenders on Monday in Abuja, stormed the headquarters of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to protest what they called the unconstitutional suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The aggrieved protesters, who were led by the Spokesperson of Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, were armed with placards with various inscriptions such as: “NBA must act now”, “NJC must reconvene and expel Justice Tanko Mohammed for usurping the CJN office”, “Removal of Onnoghen an act of treason”, among others.

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 group of Tanko Mohammed supporters also stormed the NBA headquarters armed with placards with inscriptions such as “Onnoghen should resign and save judiciary”, “In Japan the CJN would have committed suicide “, PDP + Onnoghen = Corruption”, and so on.

The group chanted songs insisting that President Buhari was right to suspend the embattled CJN, calling on him to quickly resign.