Replying yesterday, Buhari’s major rival in the coming presidential election, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) described it as an act of desperation given that the president moved just as Onnoghen made plans to inaugurate the election tribunals today. Calling on the judiciary to remain united given that it was the last hope of the common man, Atiku also called on all elements of the international community to step in to save Nigeria’s democracy. He said:
“This brazen dictatorial act is the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation’s hard-earned democracy by those who dined with anti-democratic forces, and is symptomatic of the increasing desperation that President Buhari and the cabal pulling the strings have as February 16, 2019, draws near. “The fact that the unlawful suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was announced just as it became public knowledge that the CJN was constituting the election petition tribunals is not lost on discerning Nigerians and the international community.
This act of desperation is geared toward affecting the outcome of the 2019 Presidential elections. Indeed, it is not just the CJN that has been “suspended,” it is the Nigerian Constitution that has been infracted and, in effect, suspended, under the guise of the suspension of the CJN.
“The case involving the legality or otherwise of the charges against Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen is in court, as it should be. So far, the judiciary has ruled in Justice Onnoghen’s favour. So, why not allow the court to adjudicate on the matter? What is the pressing urgency?
“I want to seize this opportunity to call for unity amongst the judiciary. Do not let the Muhammadu Buhari administration divide you. Do not let this government turn you against yourselves. The judiciary is the last hope of the common man and the defender of our democracy.
“I also urge the international community to follow the commendable example of the United States and the United Kingdom by intervening to make those involved in this undemocratic act know that their actions will have consequences. Strong consequences.
“And to the Nigerian electorate, I call on you to save your beloved country from dictatorship by voting against President Muhammadu Buhari’s desperate war against the judiciary. Our country is falling apart under the leadership of President Buhari, and it is time to stand up for democracy.”