Peter Obi warns “intimidation of judiciary may cause anarchy”.
•There is dictatorship in the land, says AG
From the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi has come a warning that intimidation of the judiciary could cause anarchy in the country, urging the government to be careful about the actions it takes.
Obi, who reacted to the planned trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, over alleged non-declaration of assets, cautioned that when the critical essence of democracy is under siege or attacked, the state could be set on the path of perdition.
In a statement issued through his media aide, Val Obienyem, Obi described the orchestrated arraignment of Onnoghen as intimidation of the judiciary. He noted that though law-abiding citizens, including members of the judiciary, affirm that nobody is above the law, but the process of legal restitution for alleged infractions of the laws of the land must be above board.
Obi said: “In the present case, confirmed indications reveal that due process was not followed. For instance, what should be done first in such cases is to write formally to the National Judiciary Council [NJC], and that was not done.
“In my view, the Nigerian judiciary remains the best of the three arms of government under the present dispensation. Indeed, it has done tremendously well, and I am a celebrated beneficiary of our judicial system. It was through the courts that I secured my electoral mandate and also served my full term. It was also the due process that reversed my illegal impeachment. Interestingly, a number of other public office holders, including the incumbent chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) benefited from that courageous precedent set by the Judiciary.”
He lamented that the judiciary had been subjected to unwarranted intimidation by the present administration, “with such unwholesome acts as unfounded hounding of members of the higher Bench, raids on their homes, arrest, and arraignment, to the present macabre dance in the name of allegations against and arraignment of the CJN.”
More disturbing to Obi is the seeming lack of decorum in the attitudes and actions of the present government: “One begins to wonder whether the handlers of the present regime are unmindful of the extant law that requires the NJC to first investigate judicial officers and, if found culpable, recommend disciplinary measures to the legislature before any arraignment if necessary.
“It is also revealing that this scenario is not novel in today’s Nigeria. It is the same CJN that was also subjected to all manner of traumatic experience before his emergence as head of the Nigerian Judiciary. From the way and manner we are going, the judicial arm that helps to defend, guide, guard and direct democracy and its institutions are being overawed, intimidated and undermined preparatory to the general elections. Wherein lies our hope in Nigeria?”
The Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, described the prosecution of the CJN as an attempted “coup against democracy.”
Nwoko, who spoke to journalists on the matter in his office yesterday, said since the advent of democracy in 1999, the action of the Federal Government constituted the most potent threat to the survival of democracy in the country.
“Since May 1999, this is the single most potent, most alarming, condemnable and intolerable threat to the survival of democracy in Nigeria. Since May 2015, when the present administration was sworn in, most of us have seen and observed and quietly pointed out the regular symptom of dictatorial manifestations in different forms and different times and circumstances associated with different persons.
“I had said it before that the regular dictatorial tendencies by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari should not be taken for granted. I was particularly alarmed when judges’ residences were raided at night without a court order or search warrant and Nigerians took it for granted; it has become very obvious that our democracy is not only facing a threat but facing imminent danger. It is no more speculations, there is a dictatorship in the land,” he said.