By Ekenem Asuguo:
Palpable fear and tension has gripped residents of Calabar metropolis as Friends of Atiku, (FOA), Cross River state chapter has threatened to shut down Calabar by organising a one million man march to protest the suspension of CJN, Walter Onoghen.
The group described the action of federal government as tyrannical and a further emasculation of the judiciary to feather the political interest of the ruling APC.
The Secretary of the group, Mr Austine Ibok, who disclosed this in an interactive session with newsmen in Calabar, Saturday, said it is incredible and an utter violation of the constitutional provisions for the President Muhammadu Buhari to just wake up and suspend the CJN, Wlalter Ononghen based on an advice by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
Citing section 292 of the amended constitution, which states that the President can only remove the CJN with 2/3 of Senate resolution, Ibok, said it is shocking and abuse of constitutional powers for the President to have acted otherwise even the matter is before a competent Court of Appeal.
According to him, the FOA and other eminent Cross Riverians reject in totally the illegal suspension of Walter Onoghen and demand for the reversal of such a politically motivated decision that is capable of derailing our nascent democracy.
He said: “We totally reject the illegal suspension of CJN Walter Onoghen by President Buhari on the spurious advice of the CCT which is working in tandem with APC-led government to enthrone dictatorship in the country. The action of federal government is a coup against the judiciary. We, therefore demand for his immediate re-instatement of the CNJ.
“We the Friends of Atiku in collaboration with other stakeholders have concluded arrangements to mobilise over one million members and other Cross Riverians in protest against such an illegal suspension of Onoghne. This is the auspicious time for democrats and statesmen to rise up against the emerging dictatorship in our body polity. Our constitutional democracy is endangered; the nation is on the brink of precipice if we allow APC government continue in this act of brigandage.”
Ibok, an angry tone, said the speedy trail and the hog-wash arrangement leading to the illegal suspension of the CJN are all indications that the coup was already hatched waiting for execution by the Presidency, who told the nation in a live Town Hall Debate on NTA that they are not aware of that
All these actions, he said, are indications that we are sliding into another era reminiscent of late Abacha dictatorship where rule of law and respect for human rights were thrown to the winds.
Ibok, who doubles as the Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Inter Party Affairs, bemoaned the series of intimidation, harassment and outright brutality meted out on various institutions of the state and perceived political opponents of Buhari, wondering whether this is the type of change APC promised Nigerians
He decried the ignominious ways senior citizens are being rubbished in APC administration for daring to speak out in the midst of injustice and oppression, adding that the CJN is an eye opener of the plots APC has for Nigerians as we head for Polls from next month and advised voters to not only be vigilant, but must protect their votes if change must be effected.
He called on critical stakeholders including the civil society, NGOs and the media to rise up to the occasion and defend the nation that is under siege.