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Onnoghen: US, UK Raise Alarm over Buhari's Suspension of CJN

27 January 2019

Global observers have expressed concern about the suspension of Nigeria's chief justice - just three weeks before a general election.

The president on Friday said he had suspended chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen who has been asked to appear before a tribunal over allegations of breaching asset-declaration rules.

Buhari said he was acting on the recommendation of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The EU election observer mission called on all parties to "respond calmly".

His swearing-in followed Onnoghen's suspension by the president, who acted based on an order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

"Situation Room also calls on the National Assembly to urgently reconvene in an emergency session and provide needed legislative response to this blatant challenge to our Constitution and democracy", read the statement that was signed by convener of the CSOs, Mr. Buhari's election in 2015 was a rare peaceful transfer of power.

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The decision to suspend the campaign was said to have been taken with the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar.

"Although the question of foreign interference, whether state sponsored, promoted or otherwise has dominated recent elections and outcomes globally, the federal government assures citizens and the global community that it will fiercely and assiduously promote the will and the right of Nigerians to choose and elect their leaders without pressure or assistance from persons or entities that are not constitutionally empowered to participate in the process, " he said. An appeals court on Thursday ordered the suspension of the trial.

The Situation Room is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, CITAD, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC, Proactive Gender Initiative, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), RECHDI, CWAE, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and\ NISD. Buhari said his suspension will continue until the case is concluded.

Under the 1999 constitution, the chief justice can only be removed with the approval of the National Judicial Council and the Senate.

But the Presidency insisted that there was no political undertone in the suspension of the judge, stressing that it was purely about fighting corruption.

Onnoghen: US, UK Raise Alarm over Buhari's Suspension of CJN