When the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, announced a 72 hours suspension of the party’s campaign in protest over the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari, some sympathizers of the party were apprehensive that the PDP could not afford to lose even a minute since the election was very close at hand.
Even Mr. Lie Megaphone was to come out to celebrate it, claiming that the reason for the suspension of the campaign by the PDP, was because the party knew that it had already lost the election.
Quite surprisingly, with what we have seen so far, even though the PDP then had suspended their campaigns, President Muhammadu Buhari had himself indirectly campaigned for the party with his illegal and unconstitutional removal of the CJN.
Apart from its unconstitutionality, coming very close to the eve of the general elections, coupled with the speed, the urgency, and the hurried manner with which the removal and replacement of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was pursued, made many people, including some diehard Buhari loyalists, began to suspect that there might have been something fishy, something than meets the eye. And they began to wonder and to ask why, what was amiss?
How can a President who it took six months before he grudgingly agreed to sack his Secretary to Government who stole N200 million from IDP camp, and till today refused to charge him court, now turn round under two weeks, to remove the head of a branch of government, without following due process?
In our small corner, we saw both lawyers and non lawyers appear on televisions, to debate the illegality or otherwise of the President’s action. We read both in the social media and from the conventional press, various commentaries, lashing out at the powers that be, for their flagrant abuse of the constitution, with some of them suggesting that our President be impeached, because he had committed impeachable offence.
We saw some lawyers and civil society activists take to the streets to protest the violation of the constitution, and its potential effect on our democracy.
We read several uncomplimentary comments made by some foreign missions, suggesting that Nigeria was descending into anarchy, into primitivity, and asking that urgent steps be taken to rescue the sinking ship of state.
We watched debaters on television, tutoring those of us who are not “learned” about the differences between the rule of law, and the rule of the jungle, telling us that the action of the President in removing the CJN without following the due process of law, was akin to the rule of the jungle.
They taught us that there were clear set rules and procedures for removing an erring judicial officer, but that our President had ignored those rules and chose to dine in the jungle.
These “learned men” of the wig and gown, also informed us that our President had violated our constitution, the supreme law of the land, which he swore to obey, by the way and manner he removed the Chief Justice, and that the ex parte order he claimed to have relied upon in removing the CJN, was fraudulently obtained. These, we were told, were impeachable offences.
That was how President Buhari has demarketed himself, how he has shot himself in the leg, and made a lot of people who previously had sympathy for his candidacy, a lot of people who, out of some selfish or parochial considerations, were rooting for him, begin to reconsider their position, and to start to look elsewhere.
They considered that if Buhari, who is now seeking a reelection could so disregarded the constitution and the rule of law, merely because he had set his mind somewhere, it would even be worse if comes back, because that time, there would be no restraint on him. He would simply throw everything overboard and begin to deal with anybody he does not want to see his face. That is now their fear.
It is not that anybody is in support of the Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, or anybody else, who stole our money. On the contrary. It is only that due process, the rule of law, be followed in doing whatever we want to do. Anybody who steals, must be severely punished, provided that we ourselves don’t steal.
The difference between men and the lower animals is that while men are governed by the rule of law, animals are driven by instincts, the rule of the jungle. If we want to disregard the rule of law, then we might as well return to the animal kingdom, to jungle justice, the survival of the fittest.