Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Nigerian President and the Supreme Court

Nigeria's president suspends the chief justice, who is under investigation for corruption. But, if there's a challenge to upcoming election, the chief justice would have been in charge of the case.

Nigeria’s Leader Suspends Chief Justice 3 Weeks Before Vote
Nigeria’s president on Friday suspended the country’s chief justice just three weeks before the presidential election and an expected court challenge to the results…

The decision by President Muhammadu Buhari, who seeks a second term in the Feb. 16 vote, sent Africa’s most populous country into a constitutional crisis. It was not immediately clear whether the president has the authority to suspend a chief justice…
The chief justice, Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen, faces trial on charges of failing to declare his assets. Mr. Buhari said his suspension will continue until the case is concluded. This is the first time a chief justice is standing trial in Nigeria, where corruption is widespread. Justice Onnoghen said the charges are meritless.

Beyond the charges, “security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars” to Mr. Onnoghen’s accounts, the president said in a statement.

Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed will act as Nigeria’s most senior judge, Mr. Buhari said. Mr. Muhammed, like the president, is from Nigeria’s largely Muslim north while Mr. Onnoghen is from the largely Christian south.

Mr. Buhari’s top election challenger, Atiku Abubakar, called the suspension illegal. “This act of desperation is geared towards affecting the outcome of the 2019 presidential elections,” he said in a statement.

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