By Erasmus Ikhide
BEFORE now, I had mirrored President Muhammadu Buhari’s brutal and dictatorial inclinations in several articles from his first and second coming as president in 1983 and 2015 and signposted his government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the coming anarchy! The president did not disappoints his critics, as always.
Chief Mike Ozekhome, (SAN) a Constitutional Lawyer and Human Rights Activist tagged the alleged suspension from office of the CJN as the vilest, thieving, most despicable, ultravires, undemocratic and brazenly unconstitutional act ever carried out by any government in Nigeria, both civilian or military, since 1st January, 1914, when the contraption called Nigeria was forcibly contrived through the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates. It’s even more repulsive that a thoroughbred tyrant and Islamic potentate like Buhari, who openly subscribes to democratic values could brazenly crushed the judiciary.
“The desperate act of a sit-tight president constitutes a direct suspension of the Nigerian Constitution and the entire democratic process. 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. 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”, Ozekhome said.
The majesty or sacrosanctity of the judiciary has not abated since the existence of civil governments; even in time of aberrant military incursions. It has remained the sole redemptive precursor for the restoration of human ethos and societal values towards civil society. Apart from interpreting the laws of nations, the judiciary hasn’t faltered essentially or abdicates its duty and has not failed in upholding the norms of judicial supremacy over and above crass animalism.
Therefore, President Buhari’s suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and by extension the Nigerian Constitution is premeditated to serve two purposes: first to foist anomic, lawless, despotic atmosphere of fear and brutality on the nation and to paved the way to rigging February 16th presidential election. The national chair of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole at various times had told the world that APC will never hand over to opposition party party if his party failed to win at the polls!
It means that the next election is nothing more than a ritualistic outing to illegally confer life presidency (not just 4 years) on Buhari. Otherwise, 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.
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”. Did the Senate meet and empower President Buhari to remove the CJN, has been the question the masses are asking.
By this singular act, 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).
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.
Now, Nigerians have to “Take Their Country Back” in the face of outright governmental brigandage, exhibition of imperial and maniacal raw power from a president plagued with Alzheimer and dementia infirmity. Before February 16th presidential election, this is a call to duty to brace up, come out enmasse, to protest against this illegality, banality, subversion of judicial processes and rape of the nation’s constitution.
For the records, we have been here before and we are back fully to the Abacha era, as OBJ rightly noted four days ago in his patriotic letter to Nigerians to reject Buhari in the coming election and APC satanic government. Civil society organisations and the labour unions concerned should rally Nigerians against the enemy of the country and the cabals in Aso Rock who Mrs. Aisha Buhari said have taken over the governance of Nigeria, who Nigerians never voted for, from her husband.
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.
Nigerians can no longer wait for the compromised and timid National Assembly, who are themselves part of the problem to act on our behalf for refusing to impeach President Buhari on the grounds of gross incompetence and infirmity (since he can’t remember he is the nation’s president at a campaign rally in Delta State) as instructed by the Nigerian Constitution.
As it stands, there is no more democracy in Nigeria or a democrat as the president should be. What we have is a triple “D”, Defamed Demented Dictator, who has choreographed a presidential electoral heist and charade to confer legitimacy on a pre-rigged, on-the-spot rigged and post-rigged coming election. Time is now to rout the less than 1% cabals from our polity who have held the nation Hell bound, before it’s too late.