A Brewing Constitutional Crisis in Nigeria

A Brewing Constitutional Crisis in Nigeria

02.07.2020 0 comments

Nigeria is in the midst of a constitutional crisis.

Nigeria's country representative for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa is Udo Jude Ilo (OSIWA). Enough is Enough Nigeria's executive director is Yemi Adamolekun (EiE).

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria removed Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen last week and swore in Justice Tanko Muhammad as acting CJN. According to reports, President Buhari was acting on an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). The CJN was hauled before the CCT for failing to declare his assets. This nondisclosure was later admitted by Onnoghen. President Buhari, on the other hand, disobeyed the constitution's provisions for the removal of chief justice. The move raises questions about Nigeria's adherence to the rule of law and the integrity of the February 16 elections.

The CJN can be removed from office in one of two ways. First, the president can only dismiss the CJN after presenting a case to the Senate and receiving two-thirds of its members' votes. Second, the National Judicial Council (NJC) can suggest that the CJN be removed to the president, who then has the authority to do so. President Buhari did not address the Senate, nor did he receive a two-thirds majority in favour of the removal of the CJN, nor did he receive a recommendation from the NJC to remove the CJN.

Let's be clear: Nigeria's judiciary has been severely harmed. The Chief Justice of the United States admitted to omissions on his asset declaration form but refused to resign, ostensibly to avoid an investigation. The president of the Nigerian Bar Association, as well as the head of the CCT who signed President Buhari's order, are being probed for fraud. That does not, however, excuse the president's violation of constitutional procedure.

Despite their flaws, Nigerian courts have played a calming role in electoral disputes. In addition to the judiciary's greater responsibilities, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has original jurisdiction and final authority over election petitions in presidential elections.

That's why CJN's replacement comes at such an inconvenient time. Many analysts, including the authors of this article, perceive the president's move as a premeditated attempt to gain an electoral edge if an election petition filed by the president and the main opposition party reaches the Supreme Court. The move has been swiftly condemned both domestically and internationally.


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