Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, has raised the alarm that those who swore to defend and protect the country’s democracy have set it on fire.
In a statement on Saturday, Dogara said the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), by President Muhammadu Buhari is a notice to the world that “Nigeria is now a full-blown dictatorship.”
He said no constitutional provision in sections 157 and 292 supports Buhari’s action.
“This did not come as a rude shock except to those who have been blind to the gradual but progressive erosion of democratic values in the polity as President Buhari’s government has never hidden its disdain for the rule of law,” the Speaker said.
“We have watched in disbelief as the Government recklessly deploys institutional prerogatives; routinely flouts the rule of law; subverts and assaults democratic Institutions; refuses to accept opponents as legitimate; suppresses citizens civil liberties (especially those of opponents) and trample underfoot the media. In short, the Government’s tyrannical and authoritarian credentials are loathsomely legendary.
“The whole idea of a limited government is that the President’s powers is limited by law and it is ultra vires his powers to act in the absence of explicit legislative authorisation. That is representative democracy at its best which our 1999 Constitution as amended guarantees.
“It is instructive to note that our constitution does not contemplate or presupposes a situation whereby the Judiciary will have a suspended CJN and an acting CJN at the same time. Therefore, it is right to posit, as some have done that the President now has his own Chief Judge to do his bidding while Nigeria has a sitting CJN until he is removed in line with the provisions of the Constitution.
“As of today, Nigeria is now Germany in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire. Our democracy is on fire; ignited by the very people who swore to protect and defend it.
“That this fire must not convert the chancellor to Fuhrer as it happened in Germany in 1933 depends on our collective response and that of the international community. We must not bow our knees to dictatorship: not now, not ever again.”
Dogara said the world must not allow “this unmitigated disaster” in Nigeria.