Nigeria's Buhari suspends chief judge; opposition cries foul


Nigeria's chief justice, Walter Onnoghen, could have ruled on any dispute of election results, which are widely expected in Nigeria's 2019 elections, now scheduled on February 16.

Nigeria's Federal High Court on Tuesday declined the government's request that Onnoghen be ordered to stand down.

The move is particularly significant because the results of the February 16 presidential and parliamentary elections may be contested in the Supreme Court, said Adedayo Ademuwagun, a Lagos-based analyst at the risk advisory group Songhai Advisory LLP.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has summoned an emergency meeting over the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

"And for such further order (s) as this Honourable Tribunal may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case".

"Issued at Abuja under the Hand and Seal of the Honorable Chairman and Member of this Honourable Tribunal this 23th Day of January 2019 By Hon Danladi Y. Umar, Hon".

The initial charges against Onnoghen, reportedly made by a former spokesman for Buhari, and the speed with which he was brought to court has dominated headlines in Nigeria for days.

His main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, 72, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, suspended his campaign for 72 hours in protest at Onnoghen's removal.

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But on Friday, Buhari suspended him, pending the resolution of a corruption trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

"You can't fight corruption without following due process", Falana said.

The Nigerian Bar Association condemned an "attempted coup" against the judiciary and suspension of the constitution by the president. It states that where the Chief Justice is guilty of a breach of the code of conduct, he can be removed by an address of two-thirds majority of the Senate.

"We call on all well meaning Nigerians to rise in defence of democracy and save our nation from this imminent slide into tyranny", the PDP said in its statement.

Onnoghen is being tried by the government at the CCT for alleged non-declaration of assets as required by the law.

Saraki, in a statement, said that the suspension was alien to the Constitution.

Debo Adeniran of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders lobby group also backed the president, saying the suspension would "send a correct signal to other judges to sit up", he said.

Buhari has been accused of surrounding himself with ministers, advisors and officials from the predominantly Muslim north, his home region.

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