President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen on Friday, appointing Tanko Mohammed from Bauchi state in acting capacity.
The president based his action on an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
But Atiku attributed the president’s action to an attempt to undermine the judiciary ahead of the February 16 presidential poll.
He wondered why Buhari removed Onnoghen just as he was preparing to swear in members of election petition tribunals.
“The fact that the unlawful suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was announced just as it became public knowledge that the CJN was constituting the election petition tribunals is not lost on discerning Nigerians and the international community,” he said in a statement he personally signed.
“This act of desperation is geared towards affecting the outcome of the 2019 Presidential elections.”
The presidential candidate called on the judiciary to do all within its powers to resist the “anti-democratic act”.
Describing the judiciary as the last hope of the common man, he called for the intervention of the international community.
Below is the statement:
The purported suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari, is an anti democratic act which I reject in its entirely and call on Justice Onnoghen and the judiciary to resist with every legal and constitutional means that they can muster.
This brazen dictatorial act is the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation’s hard earned democracy by those who dined with anti democratic forces, and is symptomatic of the increasing desperation that President Buhari and the cabal pulling the strings have as February 16, 2019 draws near.
The fact that the unlawful suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was announced just as it became public knowledge that the CJN was constituting the election petition tribunals is not lost on discerning Nigerians and the international community. This act of desperation is geared towards affecting the outcome of the 2019 Presidential elections.
The case involving the legality or otherwise of the charges against Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen is in court, as it should be. So far, the judiciary has ruled in Justice Onnoghen’s favour. So, why not allow the court to adjudicate on the matter? What is the pressing urgency?
I want to seize this opportunity to call for unity amongst the judiciary. Do not let the Muhammadu Buhari administration divide you. Do not let this government turn you against yourselves. The judiciary is the last hope of the common man and the defender of our democracy.
I also urge the international community to follow the commendable example of the United States and the United Kingdom by intervening to make those involved in this undemocratic act know that their actions will have consequences. Strong consequences.
And to the Nigerian electorate, I call on you to save your beloved country from dictatorship by voting against President Muhammadu Buhari’s desperate war against the judiciary. Our country is falling apart under the leadership of President Buhari and it is time to stand up for democracy.