Nigeria: President sacks the chief justice weeks before an election | The Economist

The wheels of justice turn slowly in Nigeria. On the rare occasions when corruption cases are brought against prominent people, petitions can take years to resolve. It was therefore unusual that on January 25th President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, a mere 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. This was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule. Mr Buhari’s move was not merely unusual. It was also unlawful. Nigeria’s constitution seeks to balance the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government; a power play by one part against a second needs the consent of the third. Mr Buhari did not seek support from the Senate, where he lacks the two-thirds majority needed to oust the chief justice, so his act is widely viewed as being against the law.

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