The Presidential Candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari and the cabal running his government, have become jittery, following the statements of condemnation issued by the United States, US, United Kingdom, UK, and the European Union, EU, over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications, Phrank Shuaibu, the former Vice President urged Buhari to ensure that next month’s elections are free and fair, or face the consequences.
He said: “Buhari’s cabal is unhappy with the statements from the US, the British, and the EU, because they know that these world powers have agreed to re-route their latest and most technologically sophisticated spy satellites, including the NAOL-47 satellite, to provide comprehensive coverage over Nigeria, on February 16.
“The photographs these satellites will deliver, cannot only show someone reading a newspaper, but also which newspaper they are reading.”
Recall, that the Federal Government had in a statement through Garba Shehu, said that: “The nation’s Security Forces will confront any attempt to interfere with the process, by elements from outside the country.”
Nonetheless, the PDP Presidential Candidate, expressed concerns over the “desperation of the APC, to rig the forthcoming elections”, and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Military, and the Police, not to allow themselves to be used by “those interested in turning Nigeria’s democracy on its head.”
Reacting to the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen on Saturday, the US Embassy, said that it had taken note of the widespread criticisms, that the said suspension is illegal.
“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”, the statement read.
“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.”
Also reacting, the British Government expressed worry over the removal of Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammdu Buhari.
The statement from the British Government read: “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.”
Joining the US, UK, to express worry over the removal of the CJN, the European Union Election Observation Mission, EU EOM, also raised concern about the CJN suspension.
The Mission in a statement on Saturday questioned the process and timing of the suspension of Justice Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Read the full statement from the EU EOM below:
The European Union was invited by the Independent National Electoral Commission, to observe the 2019 general elections.
The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) is very concerned about the process and timing of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, on 25th January.
With 20 days until the Presidential and National Assembly elections, political parties, candidates, and voters, must be able to have confidence in the impartiality and independence of the Judicial system.
The decision to suspend the Chief Justice, has led to many Nigerians, including Lawyers and Civil Society Observer groups, to question whether due process was followed.
The timing, just before the swearing in of Justices for Electoral Tribunals, and the hearing of election-related cases, has also raised concerns about the opportunity for Electoral justice.
The EU EOM, calls on all parties to follow the legal processes provided for in the Constitution, and to respond calmly to any concerns they may have.
The EU EOM will continue observing all aspects of the elections, including the independence of the election administration, the neutrality of Security Agencies, and the extent to which the Judiciary can, and does fulfill its election-related responsibilities.
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