A UN judicial expert says the Nigerian president broke international rules when he recently suspended the country’s Chief Justice. President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Walter Onnoghen last month over allegations that the judge had failed to declare his assets.
The UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego Garcia-Sayan, said such a decision should be taken by an independent judicial council or a court.
He 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. Meanwhile Nigerians will vote on 16 February and one of the main opposition candidates aiming for the presidency is former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
A key issue facing Nigeria is insecurity, including defeating the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram. President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, has struggled to quell the threat posed by the jihadists.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, says the West needs to learn much from African leaders particularly about the treatment of refugees.
Speaking at the African Union summit in Ethiopia, he said the continent had kept borders open to millions of displaced people despite its limited resources.
Africa hosts more than a quarter of the world’s refugees and internally displaced – a total of more than 20 million people.
Their plight is high on the summit’s agenda, along with the AU’s attempts to build a continent-wide free trade zone.
A deal was signed last year but it’s yet to come into effect as only 19 countries have ratified the agreement.