The British High Commission has expressed “serious concern” about the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Onnoghen on Friday, and subsequently supervised the swearing-in of Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed as the acting CJN.
A statement by the UK on Saturday based its concern on the constitutionality of Buhari’s action, noting that the timing of the action, which is just before the national elections, “gives cause for concern”.
The statement 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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