The South-South Governors, on Sunday night, condemned what they decried as an “assault” on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, telling him to ignore the court summons, which is slated for today, Monday.
The Governors noted that the attempt to drag the CJN to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, was a grave and dangerous escalation of the assault on Institutions of State, including the National Assembly, and now the Judiciary
They spoke through a communique, after an emergency meeting of the Governors of the States of the South-South geopolitical zone, which held at the Bayelsa State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, on Sunday, with only the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, not in attendance.
The communique was signed by Henry Seriake Dickson, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta State.
The meeting deliberated on the recent happenings at the Supreme Court, involving the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen, and resolved that the action against him, constitutes a setback to the gains of the nation’s democratic experience of 20 years.
The communique 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 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 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 marginalisation and intimidation.”
Elsewhere, the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, on Sunday night, warned that it would begin to attack oil wells in the oil-rich region, if President Buhari fails to reverse the harassment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The various militant groups, said that they were shocked to learn about the planned arraignment of the CJN, over allegations of false assets declaration.
A statement issued by the Coalition, alleged that Onnoghen was being persecuted, because he is from the Niger Delta region, adding that, the petition was plotted by the Presidency, to forcefully remove Onnoghen as the CJN, and replace him with a Northerner.
The statement was signed by John Duku of the Niger Delta Watchdogs and Convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators; Ekpo Ekpo of the Niger Delta Volunteers; Simply Benjamin (Bakassi Strike Force); Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters); and Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters).
It stated: “In the first instance, President Muhammadu Buhari was not disposed to Justice Onnoghen’s appointment to this position, which was why he refused to confirm the appointment, after so many months of serving in an Acting capacity. It was during the period of his sickness, while in Britain, that the (then) Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, confirmed the appointment.
“We wish to also recall, that in August, last year, Mr. Matthew Seiyefa of Bayelsa State, who was the most senior and most qualified Officer at the time, was appointed to the position of Acting Director-General of the Department of State Services, by Prof. Osinbajo, only to be replaced with a Retired and Junior Officer to Seiyefa, Yusuf Bichi, by President Buhari, as soon as he resumed duties.
“We hereby vehemently resist any attempt to remove the CJN from Office. We, therefore, want to state categorically, that if the Presidency fails to reverse its harassment against the CJN, we will have no other option, but to mobilise all the Niger Delta fighters, and commence serious actions that would shake the country and the whole world.
“We shall shut down all the oil wells in the Niger Delta. We call on all the Northerners and Yorubas, who own oil wells in the Niger Delta, to prepare to vacate immediately.
“We also want to warn our Niger Delta brothers, who are working for Buhari, to watch their backs, and know that we are watching them and their family members. We warn them to stop campaigning for Buhari in the Niger Delta”, the Militants stated.