The United States Embassy has expressed “deep concern” over the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
This was contained in a statement issued on Saturday.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Onnoghen on Friday, and Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed was sworn in as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Onnoghen is standing trial over allegations of fraudulent declaration of assets.
The US Embassy questioned Buhari’s decision to suspend Onnoghen, without recourse to legislative arm of government.
The statement read: “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.
“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.”