Nigeria: Onnoghen - Mind Your Business, Oshiomhole Tells U.S., UK, EU

29 January 2019

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has said Nigeria is no longer a colony and will not accept unsolicited advice from foreign countries.

Mr Oshiomhole made this known Monday night while addressing state house correspondents.

He was reacting to concerns raised by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union over the illegal removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen by the Muhammadu Buhari government.

The foreign governments had condemned the action and called for restraint.

The Nigerian government had dismissed the calls in a lengthy reaction.

Mr Buhari insists he relied on a ruling by the Code of Conduct Tribunal before he 'axed' the head of the independent arm of government.

The constitution, however, stipulates the mandatory role the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Senate need to play before such a punitive measure can be taken.

While the Senate has taken the matter to the Supreme Court for judicial interpretation, the NJC, on Tuesday asked Mr Onnoghen and the newly appointed acting CJN, Ibrahim Muhammad to respond to petitions it had received over the controversy within seven days.

Enraged Official

But Mr Oshiomhole said the country will not accept foreign interference and "everyone must defend the sovereignty of the country".

"We welcome collaboration, we welcome peer review, we can compare notes. We welcome people who are interested in sharing experiences with us whenever the need arises, whether it's capacity building, making useful suggestions on how we can continue to improve on our electoral process," he said.

"Those are very valuable contributions that we appreciate. But Nigeria is not a colony. We will not accept any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Nigeria," the head of Nigeria's ruling party added.

Mr Oshiomhole said when judges are dismissed in Europe "no one interferes so I do not understand why the western world interferes in the affairs of the country."

Speaking on the criticism of many Nigerians, he said it was due to misinformation.

He said the CJN's excuse is not acceptable "as ignorance is no excuse in law".

"Some people say even if it is true, is this the proper timing? What is the best timing to prosecute a crime? Should we suspend criminal justice pending elections?" he said.

He said since the embattled official had agreed that he breached the law, there was no need for criticism from Nigerians.

"If a Chief Justice of the federation admits that he has breached the law, to the extent of forgetting that he has those accounts, if he has such memory failure about the number of accounts, not even ignorance is not an excuse in law. So, why are we being hypocritical?" he asked.

Reinstate CJN- Group

Meanwhile, a group, the New Independence Group (NIG), has condemned the suspension.

The group described President Buhari as notorious in disobeying court orders.

It said Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo being a professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria ought to have advised Mr Buhari appropriately.

In a statement jointly signed by four of its members: Akinyemi Onigbinde, Wale Are-Olaitan, Yinka Olujinmi and Deolu Oyekan, the group described the suspension as "unfortunate".

"We find the laboured explanations unconvincing and indefensible. We feel mortified that the President, who took an oath to protect, safeguard and uphold the laws of the land will try to justify his self-injection into an ongoing judicial process because he thinks the normal course of justice is not the best for the nation," it said.

"The NIG, alongside other concerned groups, has persistently made a case for the overhauling of our laws and judicial process. Sadly, even with a professor of law and Senior Advocate as Vice President, the Buhari regime has not been able to initiate any meaningful rework of our constitution and laws, preferring to rule with whims and caprices where institutional and administrative frameworks are needed.

"It is therefore unfortunate that having found, according to him, the judicial process a cog in the wheel of the anti-corruption agenda of his administration, the President decided to resort to self-help," it said.

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