…Says, “It’s black-market exparte order”
By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Presidential candidate of People’s Trust (PT) party in the scheduled February 16 election, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has called on the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee and the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) to intervene and amicably resolve the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, in order to avert political and constitutional crises.
Olawepo-Hashim made the call against the backdrop of the combative and intransigent position taken by President Muhammadu Buhari, who last Friday, acted on a ‘black market’ ex-parte order procured at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to suspend Onnoghen and swear-in, in his stead Justice Tanko Mohammed as acting CJN.
He said in an interview on Monday in Abuja that all presidential candidates, including President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, were made to sign a peace, which among others, was to ensure peace before and after the election.
A statement by his chief Press Secretary, Hassan Ibrahim, Olawepo-Hashim, however, lamented that the suspension of the CJN, barely 3 weeks to the election and the hasty manner in which the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko, swore in judges of election tribunals, “have compromised the credibility of the electoral process and are thus capable of undermining peace and stability during and after the election.”
He said now was the time for the Abubakar Committee, which comprises eminent Nigerians, to swing into action and find a peaceful solution to imminent political and constitutional crises.
While insisting that the suspension of Onnoghen negated the laws of Nigeria and, therefore, an indication that the country had fallen into dictatorship, Olawepo-Hashim urged the Acting CJN to step aside since his appointment had not followed due process.
According to him, “Such an appointment must be done on the recommendation of the Nigeria Judicial Commission (NJC), which was not the case in the appointment of Justice Tanko.”
He said President Buhari had 4 years to fight corruption but queried the sudden onslaught on Onnoghen, few weeks to the general elections. Olawepo-Hashim, therefore, called on the Acting CJN to step aside and allow a process where the next CJN in line would be recommended by the NJC.
He declared: “I am not particularly interested in individuals but how to preserve the integrity of institutions of state such as the Judiciary. The weighty allegations against Justice Onnoghen should still be investigated by the NJC; and it should be up to the NJC to know what to do with him, in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other judicial regulations.”