A front runner in the February 2019 Nigerian presidential election, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), has joined the growing voices of condemnation in the way the executive branch of government under incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari is going about the indictment of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen.
Prof. Moghalu in a statement published on his Facebook account on Tuesday 15 January, said he believes that the “due process of the law is being violated in the efforts to hurriedly remove Justice Onnoghen from office” which he alleged was intended to “pave the way for the President to appoint a new Chief Justice that would be partial to him, should he rig the election, and should his dubious victory be challenged up to the Supreme Court”.
The former deputy CBN governor and professor of practice and economics turned politician, Moghalu, said that Mr. Buhari would be making a “big mistake” if “after squandering the hopes of Nigerians with his incompetence, nepotism and double-standard”, he now expected to “intimidate Nigerians into permanent silence and submission”.
He called on the administration to follow the “due process of the law” by letting the National Judicial Council first review any alleged infractions by the nation’s top judicial officer before taking him to stand trial in any court according to the constitutional order.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria was arraigned at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday 14 January by the Code of Conduct Bureau accused of non-disclosure of some bank accounts in his asset declaration form.
But the move had heat up the political temperature as many analysts read political motives into the move that would have likely seen the removal of the CJN – the first from southern Nigeria in 30 years. Justice Onnoghen hails from Cross River State, southeastern Nigeria.
President Buhari himself is facing tight election battle in about a month’s time. Some believe Buhari or his supporters may prefer Justice Onnoghen’s second in line, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, a fellow northern muslim like President Buhari.