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Nigeria opposition party pauses election campaign over suspension of judge

President Muhammadu Buhari said he had suspended Walter Onnoghen, who has been asked to appear before a tribunal over allegations of breaching asset-declaration rules.

FILE: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Picture: AFP.

ABUJA - Nigeria’s main opposition party has suspended its presidential election campaign for 72 hours in protest at the suspension of the country’s most senior judge by President Muhammadu Buhari, it said on Saturday.

The president on Friday said he had suspended chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen who has been asked to appear before a tribunal over allegations of breaching asset-declaration rules.

Onnoghen has not responded to the charges and his lawyers say the tribunal does not have the authority to try him.

Buhari, who was a military ruler in the 1980s and voted into office in 2015, is seeking a fresh term in an election scheduled to take place on 16 February. At stake is control of Africa’s top crude oil producer and one of the continent’s biggest economies.

Nigeria’s judiciary has helped resolve electoral disputes after past votes, some of which have been marred by violence and vote-rigging. The chief justice could preside over a disputed election result.

“In the first instance, we are suspending our campaign for 72 hours. It is our hope that President Buhari will listen to the voice of all lovers of democracy the world over and restore democracy in Nigeria immediately and without qualifications,” the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said in a statement.

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