Nigeria rejects foreign 'meddling' over chief justice suspended before February vote

Nigeria rejects foreign 'meddling' over chief justice suspended before February vote

It added that the suspension would stand till the conclusion of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Speak on the constitutionality of the suspension, Sagay in a telephone interview said Buhari was legally empowered to suspend Onnoghen.

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.

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.

The main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday called the president's decision "an act of dictatorship" and "the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation's hard-earned democracy".

"It amounts to an absolute breach of the constitution and the usurpation of the powers of the Senate and the Nigerian Judicial Council", it said in a statement.

Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), came to power in 2015 on a pledge to stamp out corruption and is seeking another four-year term.

He has since acknowledged he can not change the past, calling himself a "converted democrat" but has struggled to shake off his autocratic reputation.

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

The Nigerian Bar Association has called Buhari's move an "attempted coup against the Nigerian judiciary".

Nigeria's chief justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen is charged for failing to declare his assets.

Buhari on Friday said a court order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which is looking into the asset declaration allegations, directed him to suspend the judge.

"They all have different roles to play in that process, " he said.

"I also urge the global community to follow the commendable example of the United States and the United Kingdom by intervening to make those involved in this undemocratic act know that their actions will have consequences".

It was observed that unlike the custom where justices of the Supreme Court attend such functions with the CJN, only one of the Supreme Court justices, Justice Sidi Dauda Bage, joined the Acting CJN, Justice Mohammed on the court podium.

His appointment was only confirmed by parliament in March 2017, prompting speculation Buhari was not keen to endorse his candidacy.

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