Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife, met with
South-South Governors meet today to discuss the persecution of one of its own who is the current Chief Justice of the nation, CJN Onnoghen. The meeting was held on Sunday at the Bayelsa State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja.
The meeting was called by Seriake Dickson the Governor of Bayelsa state and have in attendance Governors from Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Rivers, Nyesom Wike, Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel, Cross River, Prof. Ben Ayade and Seriake Dickson himself who is the Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum.
The Governors deliberated on the action of the Federal Government towards the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen. The Governors strongly condemned the action of the Federal Government and has termed it has the marginalization of the people from the region. The Governors also recalled the removal of Mathew Seiyefa as the Acting Director General of the Department of State Service.
The Governor all signed a communique that reads: “We note that under Section 158(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Judicial Council, has ample powers to deal exhaustively with matters pertaining to allegations of misconduct and discipline of Judicial officers. Specifically, the NJC has the powers and clear procedures for investigating allegations and recommending appropriate sanctions or disciplinary measures against judicial officials as a matter of the first instance before any further steps.
“The judicial pronouncements in the cases of FGN Vs Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court (January 9, 2018) and Justice Ngajinwa Vs FGN 2017 at the CCT have given validation to the express provisions of the constitution on this issue.
“We note that the attempt to drag the CJN to the CCT is also a grave and dangerous escalation of the assault on institutions of a state including the National Assembly and the judiciary
“We believe that the President, Muhammadu Buhari has a constitutional responsibility and huge moral obligation to defend our democracy.
“Therefore, we consider this step, which is directly aimed at humiliating the nation’s highest judicial officer and a prominent son of the region, as totally unacceptable as it is reflective of the South-South story of endless marginalization and intimidation. The unceremonious removal of former Acting Director General of the Department of State Service, Mathew Seiyefa and his replacement is still very fresh.
“We note that the unfortunate action against the CJN further reinforces the perception that the Buhari administration has no regard for the sentiments of Nigerians, in particular, the people of Niger Delta, and the rule of law
“It is a fact that this administration has a penchant for flagrant disobedience of and disregard for legitimate and valid court orders.
“We expect President Buhari to know that democracy cannot survive without respect for the constitution, strict adherence to the rule of law, and separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution.
“We strongly believe that the regrettable development at the Supreme Court at this critical time, when preparations for the general elections are wobbling (with serious concern about INEC and security agencies) is capable of causing avoidable anxiety, tension and possible breakdown of law and order in the country.
“We note further that the action undermines confidence not only in the judiciary but also the electoral process that has already commenced, in view of the pivotal role that the judiciary plays in the process of electoral adjudication.
“We affirm President Buhari should know that the continuous assault on critical institutions of state is a defining feature of a dictatorship and that the President is obliged to live up to his word that he is a born-again democrat, as he assured Nigerians in 2015.
“Based on the foregoing, we hereby call on the President:
1) To condemn without any equivocation, this assault on the CJN and the judiciary especially coming after similar assaults on the National Assembly, to save the country from this embarrassment and global contempt.
2) We call on the CJN to ignore this so-called Court summons from the CCB and the provocative call for his resignation in some quarters.
“While we are not opposed to a genuine fight against corruption, such action must always be anchored on the rule of law.
“We also decry the massive build-up of arms by APC leaders and members across the Niger Delta with the intent to cause mayhem and a general breakdown of law and order during the elections.