DAILY FILE – The federal government said it is deeply concern over statements made by United States, United Kingdom and European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) regarding the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The U.S, U.K and EU EOM had, in separate statements last weekend, questioned the suspension of CJN Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement on Monday, said those statements demonstrate serious and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Nigeria.
“The various statements, especially of those referred to above, appear prejudicial and signify alignment with the opposition and endorsement of its position that the ruling party, and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria, is working on rigging the forthcoming elections in Nigeria,” said the statement signed by the ministry’s spokesperson, George Edokpa.
Edokpa added that “These statements also portend tolerance for corrupt acts and downplay the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari Administration, knowing fully that the suspended CJN had not denied the charges against him and that probity requires of him to step aside while the case is under scrutiny.”
He stressed that their positions on the suspended CJN were inimical to the wellbeing and development of Nigeria, given their nuisance value of promoting sectional and religious divide in the country, anarchy and retrogression.
He noted that President Buhari had consistently demonstrated respect for the rule of law, saying it was absurd to presume that the suspension of the CJN is geared towards rigging the forthcoming elections in favour of the ruling party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, be it known that on three occasions that Mr. President went to court, as a presidential candidate and lost his case, in 2013, 2011 and 2007, the presiding judges at the Supreme Court were all northerners and Muslims: Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais, Idris Lebo Kutigi and Dahiru Mustapha respectively.
“In fact, in one instance, the presiding judge at the Appeal Court was from Katsina State and the President’s former classmate, yet, he lost the case. The minority judgements in his favour were given by two judges, both of them southerners and Christians: Justices George Adesola Oguntade and Sylvanus Nsofor.”
Edokpa therefore cautioned Resident Embassies and International Organisations invited to observe the forthcoming elections, saying they must be wary of being drawn into the camp of the opposition, otherwise their neutrality, which is the hallmark of election observers becomes questionable.
He said, “It is insulting for any foreign representative to claim the right to interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs, based on the premise that its government has invested heavily in the election.
“Nigeria has invested enormously, over the years, in election processes of many African countries, and will continue to do so without interfering in their internal affairs. Interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs under any guise will therefore not be accepted.
“Representatives of foreign governments and organizations are therefore advised to tread with caution and desist from using the utterances and actions of opposition organizations and individuals as a vehicle to interfere in Nigeria’s internal affairs.
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