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UN official blasts Nigeria’s President Buhari over suspension of top judge; Atiku fears electoral fraud

NEW YORK – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari comes under excessive national, regional and international condemnation for acts political observers termed as dictatorial and undemocratic.

The Nigerian autocrat suspended Walter Onnoghen last month over allegations that the judge had failed to declare his assets.


Diego Garcia-Sayan

Diego Garcia-Sayan, the UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said such a decision should be taken by an independent judicial council or a court and not the president.

The top United Nations official said dismissing judges without following legal procedures was incompatible with the independence of the judiciary.

The suspension of the chief justice has drawn international criticism.

As Nigeria’s top judge he could play a key role in any disputes that arise from this weekend’s elections but President Buhari failed to understand the role of the judiciary.

Meanwhile, in a related development, a known and strong presidential contender, Atiku Abubakar is worried about ‘credible’ election.

Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar

Nigerians will vote on February 16 this year and Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president under General Olusegun Obasanjo, is one of the main opposition candidates aiming for the presidency.

The BBC’s Newsday presenter James Copnall asked Mr. Abubakar why he thought he could do any better.

The opposition presidential candidate addressed several concerns.  A key issue facing Nigeria is insecurity, including defeating the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram. Incumbent President Buhari, a former general, has failed to quell the threat posed by the jihadists and his Fulani herdsmen.

The BBC’s Newsday presenter James Copnall asked Mr. Abubakar why he thought he could do any better.

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Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens is a researcher, media issues analyst and senior contributor with Globe Afrique.

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