The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ forum has described the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari as a coup against constitutional democracy.
In a statement signed by Chief E K Clark (South South), Ayo Adebanjo (South West), Chief John Nwodo (South East) and Dr Pogu Bitrus (Midddle Belt), the leaders in a statement titled ‘Constitutional Crisis As Buhari Illegally Suspends CJN’ , said they have checked through the constitution and found out that President Buhari lacks the power to suspend the CJN unilaterally except by 2/3 of the National Assembly.
The statement reads: “The attention of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders has been drawn to a coup against Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari by the Suspension of CJN Walter Onnoghen this evening and swearing in a replacement.
This is a constitutional crisis foisted by desperation and morbid desire to foist rule of thumb.
“We have checked through the constitution and the President has no power to unilaterally suspend the CJN.
“Section 292 of the amended 1999 Constitution is clear that the President can only remove the CJN with 2/3 of Senate resolution.
“To us what has been done is resort to self-help after the Court of Appeal issued an order stopping the trial of the CJN by the CCT presided over by a man answering charges in court over corruption allegations but still in office.
“The latest action is a clear suspension of the constitution and enthronement of full blown dictatorship.
“We reject the illegal suspension and demand its immediate reversal.
The suspension is null and void and of no effect whatever.
“An emergency meeting of the Forum holds shortly on this total aberration.
We call on all Nigerians to wake up to the reality that our democracy is now under threat and use all constitutional means to defend it.
We must not surrender to this authoritarian rule.”