The British government has called for calm following the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.

The CJN’s suspension was announced by President Buhari on Friday, January 25, 2019.

The British government also expressed concern over the development, adding that the timing is questionable.

The statement reads: “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.”

US reacts

Also, the United States has called for the immediate resolution of the issues arising from the CJN’s suspension.

The US Embassy also issued a statement saying “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. 

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 “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.”

A former spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank had earlier issued a statement calling on members of the international community to call President Buhari to order.