Nigeria: UK Expresses 'Serious Concern' Over Onnoghen's Suspension

Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen.
26 January 2019

The United Kingdom has joined other members of the international community in expressing reservations over Friday's suspension of Nigeria's Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen.

In a statement by its high commission in Abuja, the British government said the timing for the action gives cause for concern.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday swore in Ibrahim Mohammed as acting chief justice of Nigeria after suspending Mr Onnoghen ostensibly relying on an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Mr Onnoghen was taken before court by the federal government on allegations of false asset declaration and concealment.

His suspension has come under heavy criticism from Nigerians and foreign governments.

Read the UK High Commission statement below:

The UK issued the following statement:

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.

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