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US kicks on suspension, replacement of CJN Onnoghen, demands respect for rule of law, constitution

Valentine Chinyem

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United States government says it is deeply concerned over the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria and replacing him with Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed without the support of the National Assembly.

The U.S. said this through a statement issued from its Embassy in Abuja on Saturday.

The statement further adds that the decision to remove Onnoghen is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch.

It reads in full: “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.”