The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to immediately protect the institution of the judiciary from the “unconstitutional, repressive and fascist” policies being allegedly foisted on the system by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led presidency.
The opposition party also called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, not to succumb to alleged pressure by the presidency to return Mrs. Amina Zakari as Director of Operations.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday in Abuja said the Executive Order 6 as well as the travel ban and trailing of citizens were devised to directly interfere in judicial processes and stifle accused persons of resources, under the guise of speedy trial, saying it has left no one in doubt that Nigeria is fast sliding into fascism.
The opposition party added that Buhari presidency has commenced an attack on the independence of the judiciary, using the instrument of blackmail and aspersion on its integrity and capacity to effectively and timeously dispense justice.
The PDP stressed that the travel ban, trailing of citizens and attempt to regulate the processes of the court was therefore an attempt to short-circuit the constitutional powers of the judiciary and foist a fascist regime where the presidency becomes the investigator, prosecutor and the judge in determination of trumped-up charges against innocent Nigerians.
Ologbondiyan stated: “In trying to use his Executive Order 6 to determine the process, procedures and progression of cases in court, the Buhari presidency directly seeks to usurp, commandeer and appropriate the constitutional powers of the judiciary and then arm-twist the courts and use them as slaughterhouses for opposition members and perceived political opponents.’’
The PDP called on Nigerians to note that the action of the Buhari presidency was a direct attempt to suspend sections 6 (6)(b), 36 (5), (6)(d) and 37 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Ologbondiyan noted that while section 6 (6)(b) provides that judicial powers of the court shall ‘extend to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any person in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.”
He added that Section 36 (6) (d) provides that “every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence.’’
The PDP stated categorically that it rejects any attempt by this administration to return our country to pre-1984 military dictatorship, where siege mentality and suppression of rights of citizens was the rule rather than the exception.
The party urged the judiciary-as the last hope of the common man-to immediately insulate itself from the evil machination of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which it said is now trying to turn the judiciary into an instrument of oppression against Nigerians.
The opposition party also charged INEC not to change its statute-backed stand on the exclusion of Zamfara State chapter of APC from presenting candidates in the 2019 general election, following its failure to conduct congresses.
The PDP cautioned that Nigerians are already aware of the pressure from the Buhari presidency to return Amina Zakari, ‘a blood relation’ of President Buhari, as Director Operation so that they can use her to manipulate the electoral processes and rig the election for President Buhari.
“While the PDP notes the redeployment of Zakari to another directorate, the party nevertheless, reaffirms its position that her continuous stay in the commission constitutes a threat to free, fair and credible 2019 general election given her relationship with President Buhari, who is a major contender in the election,” the major opposition party stated.