The United States Government has rejected the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The US Embassy in Nigeria said in a statement that the decision of the executive arm of government to suspend the head of another arm of government without recourse to the National Assembly was questionable.
The US which had last week threatened to place a visa ban on all persons who manipulate the electoral process, questioned the timing of the suspension of the CJN.
The US said the removal of Onnoghen “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.”
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.”