Nigeria opposition party pauses election campaign over suspension of judge

CJN EFCC

"Our country is falling apart under the leadership of President Buhari and it is time to stand up for democracy", Abubakar said in a statement.

Justice Walter Onnoghen was scheduled to carry out the swearing in of members of the tribunals before he was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.

"There are reports that the said order is suspicious and subject to investigation, being not argued or issued in the open court; following which a distressed Buhari Presidency now seeks to corrupt and undermine the Senate".

The former military ruler, 76, is seeking re-election at polls on February 16, against a backdrop of mounting concern about vote-buying and violence.

On Friday, he called the move "a brazen act of dictatorship" and "anti-democratic", in a clear reference to Buhari's army past and autocratic rule in the 1980s.

The case was a distraction, he said, but added it was "no secret that this government is dissatisfied with the alarming rate" of acquittals in corruption cases under Onnoghen.

He said, "The government should as a matter of urgency, lift the suspension on the Chief Justice since the Chief Justice as so much to on his own admitted that he did not declare his assets, he should do the needful by calling it quits".

"As such, we urge all Nigerians and the worldwide community to recognize only Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria".

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Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed will act as Nigeria's most senior judge, Buhari said.

"President Buhari has sent a risky signal to the entire world that Nigeria is no longer a democratic nation and that we have returned to the old, jaded era of military dictatorship, " he said in a statement.

Using similar language, the Nigerian Bar Association - the umbrella body for lawyers - said Buhari had mounted an "attempted coup against the Nigerian judiciary".

Abubakar questioned why due process was not allowed to run its course and called for the global community to threaten "strong consequences" for anyone involved.

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

Similarly, Atiku Abubakar rejected the appointment of an acting CJN and call on Justice Onnoghen and the judiciary to resist with every legal and constitutional means that they could muster.

Buhari has been accused of surrounding himself with ministers, advisors and officials from the predominantly Muslim north, his home region. Muhammed, like the president, is from Nigeria's largely Muslim north while Onnoghen is from the largely Christian south.

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