Walter Onnoghen

THE Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, has condemned the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the action portends grave danger to the coming general election. TMG, a coalition of 400 civil society organisations, working to support and strengthen the democratic process in Nigeria, in a statement, yesterday, said it was worried over what it called “the recently contrived crisis in the nation’s judiciary, which has snowballed into the purported suspension of Onnoghen.

Its chairperson, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, in the statement by TMG members from the 36 states  and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, said: “In our view, the onslaught by the Presidency against the judiciary, a pillar in the democratic process, is ill-advised and poorly timed.

“TMG finds it worrisome that the clear interference by the President in another arm of government portends dangers for the nation’s democracy, and specifically, the 2019 electoral process.

The act is capable of casting aspersion on the processes and outcome of the 2019 polls, which are just a few weeks away. “Of utmost importance in the electoral process, is the impartiality of the election petition tribunals.

The recent happenstances have placed serious credibility question on the tribunals, who will be faced with the uphill task of proving that their adjudication of election cases would not be tilted to favour the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC.

“Apart from the credibility problems, the action against the CJN has created the perception in the public that the president is not committed to standing by his promise to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.

“What the president has done is an abuse of power and taking advantage of his control of state apparatus to override the will of the court system.

“TMG is concerned with the effect of the president’s conduct on the elections since actions of these nature are capable of causing voter apathy and anarchy as citizens can be emboldened in the resort to self help. These realities can in turn have an impact on the extent of participation in the electoral process by the people.”