The United States says it is “deeply concerned” by President Muhammadu Buhari‘s decision to suspend Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) without “support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections”.
President Buhari said the order demanded that the CJN be suspended depending on the determination of his ongoing trial at the tribunal.
Apparently displeased with the development, the US in a statement on Saturday by the US embassy in Nigeria, said it had taken note of widespread criticisms that the suspension is illegal.
The statement reads: “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 added.