The United States has reacted to the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen on Friday, January 25, 2019 citing an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, and swiftly swore in Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed, a Norther whose wife is a senatorial candidate in Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, APC, in the upcoming elections next month.
In a statement published on the US Embassy in Nigeria on Saturday, January 26, 2019 the US embassy in Nigeria said it had taken note of widespread criticisms that the suspension is illegal.
“The Embassy of the United States is deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections,” the statement read.
“We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch.
“That undercuts the stated determination of government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent, and peaceful – leading to a credible result.
“We urge that the issues raised by this decision be resolved swiftly and peacefully in accordance with due process, full respect for the rule of law, and the spirit of the Constitution of Nigeria.
“Such action is needed urgently now to ensure that this decision does not cast a pall over the electoral process,” the statement ended.