Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Peter Obi has decried what he described as the intimidation of the judiciary and wondered what had happened to due process.
Obi, who was reacting to yesterday’s arraignment of the Onnoghen Chief Justice of Nigeria on allegations bordering on assets declaration, observed that when the critical essence of democracy was under siege, the state could be set on the path of perdition.
Obi said ,although law-abiding citizens of Nigeria, including members of the judiciary, affirm that nobody is above the law, the process of legal restitution for alleged infractions of the laws of the land must be above board.
He said: “Confirmed indications reveal that due process was not followed in the case of CJN. For instance, what should be done first in such a case is to write formally to the National Judiciary Council [NJC], but that was not done.” “In my view, the Nigerian judiciary remains the best of the three arms of government under the present dispensation. Indeed, it has done tremendously well, and I am a celebrated beneficiary of our judicial system.
“It was through the Courts that I secured my electoral mandate and also served my full term. It was also due process that reversed my illegal impeachment. Interestingly, a number of other public office holders, including the incumbent chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, benefited from that courageous precedent set by the Judiciary.
“One begins to wonder whether the handlers of the present regime are unmindful of the extant law that requires the NJC to first investigate judicial officers and, if found culpable, recommend disciplinary measures to the legislature before any arraignment if necessary.
“It is also revealing that this scenario is not novel in today’s Nigeria. It is the same CJN that was also subjected to all manner of traumatic experience before his emergence as head of the Nigerian Judiciary.
“From the way and manner we are going, the judicial arm that helps to defend, guide, guard and direct democracy and its institutions is being overawed, intimidated and undermined preparatory to the General Elections. Wherein lies our hope in Nigeria?”
Obi lammented sadly that the judiciary had been subjected to unwarranted intimidation by the present administration; with such unwholesome acts as unfounded hounding of members of the Higher Bench, raids on their homes, arrest and arraignment, to the present macabre dance in the name of allegations against and arraignment of the CJN.
He called on Nigerians leaders to shun the temptation of making moves or taken actions that could engender and breed anarchy in the country.