British Government Expresses Serious Concern Over The Timing Of Onnoghen’s Suspension
The British Government has expressed “serious concern” over the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammdu Buhari.
The United kingdom said the timing of the removal which occurred three weeks to the election could change people’s perception of the polls and risks damaging the credibility of the forthcoming elections. The British Government also said while it respected Nigeria’s sovereign authority, it is “compelled to observe that the timing of this action, so close to national elections, gives cause for concern.”
The statement, titled “The British High Commission expresses serious concern over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria” reads:
“We have heard a wide range of credible and independent voices, including in the Nigerian legal profession and civil society, who have expressed concern over the constitutionality of the executive branch’s suspension of the chief officer of the judiciary.
“We respect Nigeria’s sovereign authority and its right to adjudicate on constitutional provisions but as friends of the Nigerian people, we are compelled to observe that the timing of this action, so close to national elections, gives cause for concern. It risks affecting both domestic and international perceptions on the credibility of the forthcoming elections. We, along with other members of the international community, are following developments closely.
“We encourage all actors to maintain calm and address the concerns raised by this development through due process, demonstrating their commitment to respecting the constitution and the impartial administration of the rule of law. We further urge them to take steps to ensure that elections take place in an environment conducive to a free, fair and peaceful process.”
President Buhari suspended the CJN, Walter Onnoghen and sworn in Tanko Muhammad as acting CJ on Friday.