Nigerian Chief Justice’s suspension has raised international concerns, Judge Walter Onmogben was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday (25th January, 2019). The allegation against Judge Walter Onmogben is failing to declare his personal assets before he assumed office in 2017.
The suspension of this Chief Justice by the President Muhammadu Buhari has made international observers to express their dissatisfaction and also stated categorically that the suspension did not follow due process. Countries like Europe, United Kingdom and United State have taken serious issue with his removal, suggesting that it could “cast a pall over the electoral process”. The decision of President Muhammadu Buhari has been described as tyranny by his main challenger in the next month election, Atiku Abubakar. Politicians from the other party have stopped campaigning in protest at the president decision to suspend the head of the supreme court without due protocol. The 2/3 of the senate was not aware of the suspension which is in the consonant of sacrosanct’s constitution.
Mr President who is seeking a second term has accused the judiciary of frustrating his efforts in waging war against corruption. However, no details have been provided as regards the removal except the above stated excuses. As the head of the Judiciary, Nigeria Chief Justice plays a critical role in settling election disputes. The charge against the top judge and his subsequent suspension are politically motivated and has one or two things to do with the forthcoming elections.
The suspension came less than 24hours before Mr Onmogben was scheduled to swear in members of election tribunal. The suspension of the Chief Justice has caused a lot of reactions from many Nigerians including lawyers and civil society observer groups to question whether due process was followed or not.
The US Embassy made it clear that on no account will there be a removal of judge Onmogben without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state election. This is violation of the law as Mr President seems not to have respect for the constitution. The British High Commission also expressed a serious concern over the suspension of Judge Walter Onmogben.
Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen has filed a suit against the federal government over his suspension. The National Judicial Council, NJC waded into the crisis rocking the judiciary, by directing the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to within seven working days, respond to corruption allegations against him.
NJC which is the organ of the judiciary responsible for the Appointment, Promotion and Discipline of Judicial Officers, also gave the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, the same number of days to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for submitting himself to be sworn-in by President Muhammadu Buhari as Onnoghen’s replacement.
BY MONSURU TIJANI