Nigeria: Politics and Government

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 6th March 2020.

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Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Foreign Secretary

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of President Buhari’s suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Nigerian chief justice on (a) judicial freedom and (b) democracy in Nigeria; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The UK raised its concern about the suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, in a statement on 26 January 2019 and in a meeting with Foreign Minister Onyeama alongside our US and EU colleagues on 28 January 2019. The timing of the suspension, so close to national elections in February 2019, risked affecting both domestic and international perceptions on the credibility of those elections. Our subsequent assessment of the elections was that the Nigerian people could have confidence in the outcome; the result declared by the Nigerian election commission was consistent with the result obtained through the civil society Parallel Vote Tabulation process. However, we were concerned by reports of violence and misconduct. We expressed our deep concern at similar reports from the Bayelsa and Kogi state elections in a joint statement with European and US partners on 17 November 2019. We continue to support Nigeria and its civil society in drawing lessons from these elections and strengthening its democracy.

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