A former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, last night accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government of desperation over the planned arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen.
He said the move was suspect at a time the country is going for general elections.
Atiku in the statement said a move against the head of an arm of government (judiciary) few weeks to the election should not be spearheaded by the executive.
In the statement titled “Clarion call in defence of our Constitution,” Atiku said “My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self-governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
“I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration. The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.
“Any attempt to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate his office, 4 weeks to an election for which the unpopular Buhari administration has shown every intention to manipulate, is a move pregnant with negative meaning.
“I see no reason whatsoever for the ongoing pressure by the Buhari government to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate office when he has not been convicted for any offence.
“I therefore call on the President to respect the principle of separation of powers and abide by the rule of law on this matter and stop any interference or pressure on Justice Walter Onnoghen or the judiciary and allow the law and the constitution take its full course,” Atiku said in the statement.