The Senate will on Tuesday reconvene to talk about the suspension of the Chief
Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the swearing-in of Tanko Mohammed as the acting CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday.
An essential officer in the Senate, who talked on state of obscurity, revealed that the administration of the two chambers would have a significant gathering today (Sunday) to ponder on the plan for the crisis session.
The Punch, however, learnt that the sudden decision of the National Assembly leadership to reconvene might not be unconnected with the public outcry that greeted Buhari’s suspension of Onnoghen on Friday.
The source said, “The leadership of the two chambers has agreed to reconvene on Tuesday. They will, however, hold a crucial meeting in the private residence of the Senate President on Sunday evening (today).
“The meeting will set agenda for the emergency session they plan for Tuesday. I cannot confirm whether the impeachment of the President will form part of the agenda but I can assure you that a drastic decision will be taken against him.”
The lawmakers had, during Thursday’s plenary, adjourned sitting until February 19, which will be after the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Timing of Onnoghen’s removal raises concern –UK, US
Meanwhile, the British Government has expressed worry over the removal of Onnoghen.
This comes barely hours after the American government disagreed with the Federal Government over the removal of the CJN.
The United Kingdom said the timing of the removal, which occurred three weeks to the election, could cast a shadow over the polls while the US believed that the CJN’s removal could affect the credibility of the polls.
The statement read, “We respect Nigeria’s sovereign authority and its right to adjudicate on constitutional provisions but as friends of the Nigerian people, we are compelled to observe that the timing of this action, so close to national elections, gives cause for concern. It risks affecting both domestic and international perceptions on the credibility of the forthcoming elections. We, along with other members of the international community, are following developments closely.”
Also, the United States of America asked Buhari to resolve the issues raised by Nigerians against the suspension of Onnoghen quickly and peacefully in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
The US Embassy said this in a statement on Saturday in a reaction to the suspension of Onnoghen by the President.
The statement read, “The Embassy of the United States is deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.
“We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. That undercuts the stated determination of government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent and peaceful – leading to a credible result.
“We urge that the issues raised by this decision be resolved swiftly and peacefully in accordance with due process, full respect for the rule of law, and the spirit of the Constitution of Nigeria. Such action is needed urgently now to ensure that this decision does not cast a pall over the electoral process.”
The Federal Government said last night that Nigeria reserved the right to control its internal affairs and noted that it would not subscribe to other countries “meddling” in its affairs.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said, “The Federal Government welcomes the prevailing keen interest and partnerships for successful elections and peaceful Nigeria.
“However, we reject any interference or perception management that promotes apprehension, citizens’ distrust or undermines the transparency and acceptability of the outcomes of our electoral process.
“Nigeria reserves the right to be insulated from suggestions and or interference with respect to wholly internal affairs and commends international laws, customs and norms that mandate and require nations and the comity to respect this prerogative to all.”