Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, who is also a constitutional lawyer and Human Rights Activist reacted to the removal of the CJN Onnoghen stating that Nigeria is back to full Abacha era, as OBJ rightly noted.
In his words he said “The alleged suspension from office of the CJN is the vilest, thieving, most despicable, ultravires, undemocratic and brazenly unconstitutional act ever carried out by any government in Nigeria, civilian or military, since 1st January, 1914, when the contraption called Nigeria was forcibly contrived through the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates”
“The desperate act of a sit-tight president constitutes a direct suspension of the Nigerian Constitution and the entire democratic process.” he added.
“It has finally removed the remaining veneer of pretension to democratic credentials by Buhari and his all- conquering cabal. Welcome, Nigerians, to full blown dictatorship, absolutism, authoritarianisn and fascism. Buhari has behaved worse than what he was as a military tyrant.”
He said “Military juntas always only suspended parts of the Constitution they did not like. But, by torpedoing the entire judiciary, rule of law and due process, including four valid High Court/Federal High Court rulings and yesterday’s ruling by the Court of Appeal, all of them staying proceedings of the phoney and funny charges levelled against Onnoghen before the CCT, Nigerians now know that we have now become an endangered specie. It means that the next election is nothing more than a ritualistic outing to illegally confer life presidency (not just 4 years) on Buhari.”
“There is no known basis ,legal, constitutional or moral, to hurriedly bypass courts of law, the judicial process and court orders, to illegally remove the CJN and swear in an Acting CJN.”
Making reference to the constitution he cited how the CJN can be removed from the office
He said “The provisions of section 292(2) of the 1999 Constitution are quite clear on how the CJN can be removed from office.Aside sections 153,158 and parts 1 and 2 of the 3rd schedule to the Constitution which provide that a judicial officer can not be removed from office until he has first been tried and dealt with by the National Judicial Council (NJC), section 292(2) makes it clear that the president can only remove the CJN from office before the age of his retirement, “acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate”. When did the Senate meet to donate this power to the president? NEVER.”
The president has illegally and unconstituonally stripped both the judiciary and the Legislature bare of their constitutional functions, usurped their powers and enthroned maximum dictatorship over the affairs of Nigeria, like Louis X14 once did when he stood in front of parliament, beat his chest imperiously and declared, “l’est tat c’est moi” (I am the state). He added
The ill-advised action does not only assault our noble sense of humanity and dignity as decent Nigerians, it also violently desecrates the principles of rule of law as espoused by Prof A.V. Dicey and the hallowed doctrine of separation of powers as ably propounded in 1748 by the great French Philosopher, Baron De Montesque.
WHAT TO DO?
Nigerians should brace up, come out enmasse, to protest against this illegality. We are back to full Abacha era, as OBJ rightly noted three days ago in his patriotic letter to Nigerians.
Nigerian lawyers and the NBA should shut down all courts in Nigeria until the CJN is returned to his seat. This was achieved even under military dictatorship in Pakistan, when former Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf illegally removed from office, the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on 11th March, 2007.
All the lawyers went on strike, from 15th March, 2007, shut down the courts and protested on the streets for months, until a panel of 7 members of the Supreme Court sat and held that the removal was illegal and reinstated the Chief Justice.
Nigerian lawyers should act now. The NASS should also shut down in protest and allow Buhari and his cabal have their jolly ride over cowed, hapless, vanquished and conquered Nigerians.
There is no more democracy in Nigeria. It is as dead as dodo. The coming presidential election is but a mere charade to confer legitimacy on a pre-rigged, on-the-spot rigged and post-rigged election.
The pretentious chicken has finally come home to roost. This recent act is a big standalous shame on the Buhari government, assuming it still knows anything called shame. It has tainted it with the paint brush of odium, obliquy and international derision. The international community should weigh in immediately to prevent Nigeria from burning.