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Nigeria’s Buhari suspends chief judge, drawing opposition ire before election

Nigeria’s Buhari suspends chief judge, drawing opposition ire before election

But Buhari instead ordered his suspension and indicated he was forced to act because Onnoghen had not stepped down voluntarily himself.

"With the directive of the CCT (Code of Conduct Tribunal) in a letter dated 23rd January, 2019, accordingly, I hereby suspend Hon Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria until the final determination of the case against him", Buhari said.

As the head of the judiciary, Nigeria's chief justice plays a vital role in settling election disputes.

It was "the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation's hard-earned democracy by those who dined with anti-democratic forces", he said in a clear reference to Buhari's army past.

The statement reads: "The attention of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders has been drawn to a coup against Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari by the Suspension of CJN Walter Onnoghen this evening and swearing in a replacement".

"It is now clear to the world that President Buhari, in his selfish self-succession bid, is out to cause mayhem in our nation and truncate the smooth conduct of the 2019 election, not minding the consequential human and material losses". As such, we urge all Nigerians and the global community to recognize only Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

"There can be no two Chief Justices of Nigeria".

The PDP Presidential Campaign was scheduled to be in Benue State on Saturday before the suspension.

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"We consider the indefinite postponement of the statutory meeting of the Nigerian Judicial Council NJC by Justice Onnoghen as one of those unbridled manipulation of the judicial process".

He called on parliament to reconvene and review the decision. "This factionalisation of the judiciary will not stand", it added in a statement.

The tribunals are made up of 250 members who would hear petitions arising from National and State Assemblies, and Governorship elections.

He noted that by the suspension of the CJN, Buhari has acted outside the provision of the constitution, has exercised the powers which he does not have and that this action amounted to gross misconduct.

"The CJN must remain in office and disregard this announcement as the President has no power to suspend him".

"The Senate should reconvene now and start impeachment process against the President for acting against the provision of the Constitution he swore to uphold".

"But we know that this is going to be the beginning of democracy in Nigeria".