By Rotimi Ijikanmi/Ilorin
The Federal Government said the directive by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suspending its campaign to protest the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, is a face saving measure “ because the party’s campaign died long ago.’’
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, faulted the party’s action in an in interview with newsmen on Saturday in Ilorin.
“Which campaign did they suspend? Is it the campaign that died a long time ago? Let me tell everybody that their campaign was long dead.
“What is happening is that they are looking for a face saving device to say that they suspended a campaign that died a long time ago.
“In any case, is the suspended CJN a member of their party?. Why is the PDP crying more than the bereaved? I don’t understand, they should give us a break,” he said.
The minister said that the party’s action was suspicious, adding that it was acting a script not known to many people.
“They are acting as if there is something between them and the suspended CJN, otherwise, we do not know why they will suspend the campaign that was long dead,” he said.
On the public outcry against the suspension of Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister said the critics ignored the real issues which concern corruption and the need to protect the judiciary.
“Anybody who read the address of the president yesterday will know that he laid out the point and reasons for the action.
“The first is that there are additional evidence revealing that the suspended CJN refused to declare millions of dollars in his possession
“More worrisome is the fact that when the suspended CJN was confronted with the petition that he failed to declare his asset, he admitted adducing the reason that he forgot.
“The people that are crying tyranny and dictatorship should ask where the suspended CJN amassed several millions of dollars which he failed to declare.
“We are talking about fighting corruption here. Are those people who are crying wolf saying we should condone corruption?’’
He said the critics were being “hypocritical and insincere” to say that it was right for a CJN to be in possession of millions of dollars unaccounted for and not declared as required by law.
Mohammed said contrary to the opinions of some critics, the president acted legally by obeying the directive of a court of competent jurisdiction to suspend the CJN.
“The president did not just wake up in the morning to suspend the CJN. He was acting based on the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“The fundamental question is that where in the world will a Chief Justice of a country fail to declare his asset, confronted with evidence that millions of dollars flowed into his account and the only defence will be that he forgot.
” I agree with the president that as soon as those allegations were made, the right thing he would have done was to excuse himself.
“I also agree with the president that the alacrity with which judgments were coming from left right and centre supporting the CJN is a departure from slow machinery of justice that we are all used to,” he said.
The minister stressed that the president’s suspension of the CJN was sequel to the order of a competent court and the critics should look beyond sentiments.