The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has suspended its campaign for 72 hours to protest the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
President Muhammadu Buhari controversially suspended Mr Onnoghen from office on Friday. The president said he was acting on a court order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). The president then swore in another Supreme Court justice, Tanko Mohammed, as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Many Nigerians including the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Senate President Bukola Saraki have described the president’s action as illegal.
In its statement by its national chairman, Uche Secondus, the PDP said it was suspending its campaign for 72 hours in solidarity with Nigerians.
“Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council has suspended its presidential campaign in protest of President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
“The PDP Campaign Council further predicated the suspension of its campaign activities in solidarity with Nigerians in our collective rejection of the assault against our democratic order.”
The campaign council, co-chaired by Mr Secondus, also described Mr Buhari’s action as a “dangerous and brazen assault on the constitution”
“The basis for this election is the democracy itself. When democracy comes under this kind of virulent attack, then the election itself becomes superfluous,” the statement said.
The PDP Presidential Campaign was scheduled to be in Benue State on Saturday before the suspension.
“In the first instance, we are suspending our campaign for 72 hours. It is our hope that President Buhari will listen to the voice of all lovers of democracy the world over and restore democracy in Nigeria immediately and without qualifications. At the moment, the President has effectively suspended the constitution under whose basis the elections are being contested.
“The action of President Buhari represents a constitutional breach and a direct attack on our democracy. This must never be allowed to stand, as there is no way by which democracy can survive under these autocratic tendencies.
“We call on all well meaning Nigerians to rise in defence of democracy and save our nation from this imminent slide into tyranny,” Mr Secondus said.
The PDP led Nigeria between 1999 and 2015 when it lost the presidential election to Mr Buhari’s APC. The party’s flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar, is the main challenger to Mr Buhari in next months’s presidential election.