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BREAKING: Buhari Faces Immediate Ban, As US, UK, EU, Reject CJN, Walter Onnoghen’s Suspension, Release Statements

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The United States of America, USA, has reacted to the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.

Recall, that President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen, on Friday, citing an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

In a statement on Saturday, the US Embassy in Nigeria, said that it had taken note of the widespread criticisms, that the said suspension is illegal.

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“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.”

Also reacting, the European Union Election Observation Mission, EU EOM, raised concern about the suspension of the CJN, by President Buhari.

In a statement on Saturday, the Mission questioned the process and timing of the suspension of Justice Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Read the full statement from the EU EOM below:

The European Union was invited by the Independent National Electoral Commission, to observe the 2019 general elections.

The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) is very concerned about the process and timing of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, on 25th January. 

With 20 days until the Presidential and National Assembly elections, political parties, candidates, and voters, must be able to have confidence in the impartiality and independence of the Judicial system.

The decision to suspend the Chief Justice, has led to many Nigerians, including Lawyers and Civil Society Observer groups, to question whether due process was followed.

The timing, just before the swearing in of Justices for Electoral Tribunals, and the hearing of election-related cases, has also raised concerns about the opportunity for Electoral justice.

The EU EOM, calls on all parties to follow the legal processes provided for in the Constitution, and to respond calmly to any concerns they may have.

The EU EOM will continue observing all aspects of the elections, including the independence of the election administration, the neutrality of Security Agencies, and the extent to which the Judiciary can, and does fulfill its election-related responsibilities.

Joining in from the international community, the British Government has expressed worry over the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammdu Buhari.

The statement read from the British Government read: “The British High Commission expresses serious concern over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

“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.”

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