The European Union says the president’s decision “raises concerns about opportunity for electoral justice.” The suspended chief justice would play a role in any dispute following the upcoming presidential vote.
The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) said it was “very concerned” about Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend the country’s chief justice just weeks before a presidential election.
The mission, which is set to observe the presidential vote, said the timing of the suspension “raises concerns about opportunity for electoral justice.”
Buhari, who was a military ruler in the 1980s and elected to office in 2015, is seeking a second term in the February 16 election.
The suspension of Chief Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen on Friday came as he was preparing to swear in members for election petition tribunals.
Onnoghen faces trial for allegedly failing to declare foreign currency assets as required of officials under Nigerian law. The allegations surfaced two weeks ago.
In addition, “the security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law,” Buhari said in a statement on Friday. CJN refers to the chief justice of Nigeria.