Onnoghen: US-based IRI, NDI raise alarm over Buhari’s decision, Nigeria’s elections - Khorgist.com


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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Onnoghen: US-based IRI, NDI raise alarm over Buhari’s decision, Nigeria’s elections

Two United States based organisations, National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), on Monday, expressed concern about the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
On 25th of January, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, pursuant to an ex parte order of the Code of the Conduct Tribunal suspended Onnoghen and appointed Justice Tanko Muhammed as the Acting CJN.
A joint statement sent to DAILY POST by the bodies said the suspension came just three weeks before the February 16 presidential and National Assembly polls.
IRI and NDI said this has raised doubts among electoral stakeholders about the independence of the Supreme Court and Electoral Tribunals in the upcoming general election.
It noted that consistent with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, actions such as Onnoghen’s removal, taken so close to Election Day, should be done through consensus and in consultation with all political actors so as not to be perceived as unfairly impacting the electoral process.
“The judicial branch plays a critical role in the electoral process. It is imperative that these courts are objective and that they are perceived as such by all election stakeholders,” said NDI President Ambassador Derek Mitchell.
“The suspension of Nigeria’s highest judicial officer so close to the vote could undermine citizens’ confidence in the judiciary’s independence.”
“IRI and NDI call on all stakeholders to adhere to the rule of law and peaceful resolution of disputes,” said IRI President Daniel Twining.
“We encourage all political actors to engage in an inclusive dialogue and implement initiatives to assure the public and political contestants that, should disputes arise from the upcoming general elections, they will be resolved fairly.”
The statement added that NDI and IRI have observed all national elections in Nigeria since the country’s return to civilian democratic rule in 1999.
“The two organizations have together deployed more than 200 international observer missions to various countries around the world.
“The Institutes plan to jointly observe the February 16 presidential and National Assembly elections and the March 2 gubernatorial and state houses of assembly elections.
“IRI and NDI conducted pre-election assessment missions in July, September, and December 2018 and issued statements of our findings with recommendations to further strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process.”

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