Nigeria’s main opposition candidate in next month’s elections, Atiku Abubakar, said President Muhammadu Buhari breached the constitution by suspending the nation’s top judge last week.
“I want to note the universal condemnation of this unlawful act by all Nigerians, as well as the international community,” Abubakar, 72, said at a press conference Monday in Abuja, the capital. “How we react to this challenge in the following days will determine the fate of our democracy, which has been brought to great peril by this needless crisis engineered by a government that is unwilling to subject its conducts to the requirements of our constitution.”
Buhari’s announcement on Friday that he had appointed the Supreme Court’s second-ranking judge, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, in an acting capacity to replace Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen -- who is accused of falsely declaring his assets -- was roundly criticized by the Senate president and the Nigerian Bar Association. Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party said it was “an act of dictatorship.”
The U.S. and European Union said the move could undermine the Feb. 16 presidential vote.