By Jonathan Ugbal and Efa Sunday
Residents and monarchs in Cross River State on Monday called on Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari to revert the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen with some warning him to stay clear of the state in his campaign tour.
The monarchs, Onun Nicholas Odum and Obol Ofem Ubana made their positions known during the flag off of the rehabilitation of the 75 kilometer Odukpani junction – Akpe 1 section of the Calabar – Ikom – Ogoj highway.
Onun Odum who is the Paramount Ruler of Biase told the delegation from the federal ministry of power, works and housing led by the minister of state, Mustapha Shehuri that his kinsmen were happy about the road but will be more excited if he reverts the suspension on Justice Onnoghen.
Similarly, the Obol Lopon of Ugep, Obol Ubana said he approved the position of his fellow monarch and stressed on the need for Justice Onnoghen’s recall.
Onnoghen was suspended last week by President Buhari who said he had relied on an ex-parte order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
And, several bodies, associations and groups have shared mixed reactions towards the act with some Cross Riverians taking to the street to protest his removal on Monday.
One of the groups had converged at the Millenium Park in Calabar and some of the protesters shared their opinions on the matter with CrossRiverWatch.
The convener of the protest, Barrister Leonard Anyogo told journalists that President Buhari’s conduct was, “unconstitutional and an assault on the sacred temple of justice.”
Anyogo itemized the group’s message to the federal government.
“That Cross River is part and indeed very integral part of Nigeria and hence enjoys the protection of the Nigeria Constitution.
“The immediate reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Nigeria with all his rights and privileges as the CJN.
“Apologize to the Nigerian state and in particular Cross River State for the attempted extra-judicial removal of the CJN.
“The observance of due process and the respect for the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in suspending or removing the CJN,”the group said.
Mr. Jerry Odey, a member of the National Youth Council of Nigeria called on the President to rescind his decision and if need be for Justice Onnoghen’s removal, follow the due process as state in the constitution.
Odey who described the president’s action as “tyranical, dictatorial, attempted intimidation and gross disregard for the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” also threatened that “he (Muhammadu Buhari) should forget coming to Cross River State to campaign.”
Similarly, the Director of the #NoSidonLook, a civil society group, Mr. Portrait Peterson, said though Justice Onnoghen may not be exonerated from the allegations, his removal was a condemnable act.
“The attempted removal of the CJN is not envisaged by the Constitution. We are appealing and reminding Mr. President that he should do the needful so as to avoid Constitutional anarchy. We have suffered and labored to bring this constitution into being, if you throw away this constitution, we would no longer have a democracy. We have three arms of government with clear separations of power, but an attempt by an arm to encroach on the other is not democracy but autocracy.”
Others who shared their opinions included legal practitioners, Messrs Donclems Enamhe and George Ekpungu.
Enamhe averred that: “The beauty of the office of CJN is one that of the most constituted office in the country. Solutions to the issues raised have been provided for in the constitution, and the federal government has gone against that. Justice Onnoghen has admitted to the error but they should let due process take its course.”
Ekpungu called on Cross Riverians to pick up their Permanent Voter Cards, stressing that it was the only way to vote out anti-democratic leaders.
It will be recalled that the PDP presidential campaign which was earlier slated to hold on Monday in Calabar has since been postponed following a 72 hour suspension of the campaign tour over Justice Onnoghen’s suspension.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association in its emergency National Executive Council meeting directed members to boycott all court activities for 48 hours. Some members of the association hD protested in Abuja and other parts of the country.
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