A popular Nigerian pastor, Sarah Omakwu, has condemned the controversial removal of Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, urging Nigerians to reject his appointed replacement.
“We as a church condemn what Mr. President has done. We condemn it in no uncertain terms. It is wrong,” Sarah Omakwu, the senior pastor of Family Worship Centre in Abuja said shortly before delivering Sunday sermon.
“If the man is guilty try him properly and if he is found guilty and needs to be removed, then remove him according to the constitution of the country.
“We reject the new CJN! He is not our CJN. He is Buhari’s CJN. He does not represent us,” Mrs. Omakwu said to thunderous applause from church members.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday suspended Mr Onnoghen, over allegations of fraud, and appointed Ibrahim Muhammed to act in his stead.
The unconstitutional move has sparked local and international condemnation, with calls for the president to immediately reverse the decision.
Mr. Buhari has denied allegations of constitutional infractions, saying he relied on the order of a court.
Before Mrs. Omakwu’s Sunday speech, the new CJN has already been rejected by the opposition and several Nigerians who are concerned about the independence of the judiciary and the fate of constitutional democracy in the country.
The pastor told the church that, “Anybody who sits in this room and say it is right (Onnoghen’s removal), you are not on the side of God.”
“I am not here to defend the man, am just saying there is a process you should follow in righting a wrong or removing him. What has happened is too wrong. it’s so annoying. You condemned him, you judged him, you removed him, you put somebody else as his replacement. It’s as if Africans are not human beings.
“I also heard there are plans to evict him from his house. I don’t know if it’s true or not yet.
“We are divided politically and when things go wrong our reactions are always guided by our personal interest. When PDP was in power and was not doing it right I said it in this pulpit. When APC goes wrong, we will say it. If my mother is wrong, I will say it. If am wrong, I will say it. Those of you who will close your eyes because you gain from this (crisis) may God have mercy on you.
“Yes, he might have done wrong but anybody is presumed innocent until he is tried and found guilty. If the CJN is wrong who is the one to judge him? It’s the system but you (Buhari) sacked him and instituted somebody already in his place, it shows something is wrong.
“Anybody who sits in this room and says it is right, you are not on the side of God.”
The cleric called on lawyers, civil advocates, and human right activists to stand up and fight against “this insanity” she said was capable of causing bloodshed.
A group of rotesters gathered outside the Lagos office of Channels Television on Sunday and gave the government one week to recall suspended CJN Onnoghen.