The United States has reacted to the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as chief justice of Nigeria (CJN). 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 it had taken note of widespread criticisms that the suspension is illegal.
“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.”
However, in a display of solidarity, The President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, says the suspension of Walter Onoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria is a coup against democracy and a deliberate attempt to endanger the country’s hard-won democracy.
In the same vein whilst, Giving reasons for his decision in his speech, the President said there was an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, asking him to wield the big stick.
Apparently displeased with the development, Saraki in a statement signed by the Chairman of the National Assembly on Friday said the suspension was another act of desperation by President Buhari.
Saraki said President Buhari has acted outside the provision of the constitution with the suspension of Onnoghen and has exercised the powers which he does not have and that this action amounted to gross misconduct.
Speaking further, Saraki called on Buhari to immediately reverse this decision and allow the due process of law to take its natural course in determining the guilt or otherwise as well as the suitability of Justice Onnoghen to continue as the head of the nation’s judiciary.