The UK Government has reacted to the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Muhammdu Buhari noting the reactions of prominent Nigerians especially the Nigerian legal profession.
President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen on Friday, January 25, 2019 citing an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and quickly swore in an acting chief justice, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed.
In a statement published on the British High Commission to Nigeria’s website on Saturday, January 26, 2019 the UK Government said it calls for peaceful solutions to the apparent constitutional crisis.
“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,” the statement ended.