Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says the “attempt to force” Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), out of office has a negative meaning.
He said this in response to the charges filed against Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Ibraheem Al-Hassan, head of press and public relations unit of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, had disclosed that Onnoghen will be arraigned before the tribunal on Monday over alleged non-declaration of assets.
This followed a petition written against him.
Reacting in a statement, Atiku said the move against Onnoghen fuels his suspicion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s “growing desperation” concerning the forthcoming elections.
He added that if Onnoghen is found guilty, he should be tried by a competent court of law and not by Buhari’s administration.
“I have received the news of the sudden charges about to be filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with apprehension and suspicion especially as such a move against the head of an arm of our government is coming so close to an election in preparation of which the Buhari administration has shown growing desperation,” he said.
“My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
“I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration. The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.