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Buhari warns US, UK: we won’t accept foreign interference

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The presidency has reacted to statements accredited to the United States of America, the United kingdom and the European Union on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, noted that while Nigeria welcomes prevailing interests and partnerships for successful 2019 general elections, the government would not condone unfair interference in matters that are wholly internal.

Following the controversies generated by the suspension of Mr Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday and the appointment of a successor in an acting capacity, the United States and the EU issued statements advising the government to retrace her steps.

Before the latest statements on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the U.S. and the UK had earlier on Thursday threatened to ban from entering their countries any Nigerian found guilty of instigating violence during the election or anyone engaging in rigging the process.

Many stakeholders including the federal government, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) had hailed what they described as the foreign nations’ timely intervention.

But the presidency has strongly condemned the latest intervention of the foreign countries on the suspension of the CJN, insisting that as a sovereign country, Nigeria deserves respect and honour. The federal government, however, pledged her commitment to ensuring a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. It said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been made truly independent and offered the required support.

“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,” Mr Shehu wrote.

“Nigeria is confident of its electoral processes and her preparation for the imminent elections and the federal government has supported the independent electoral umpire in both its independence and resources needed to accomplish our desire and insistence on free and fair elections.

“In addition, the Federal government has ensured the independence of all organs, institutions and arms of government to perform their functions in a manner that is transparent and is not lacking in integrity whether institutionally or by persons within such institutions or organs and will continue to do this.

“Although the question of foreign interference, whether state sponsored, promoted or otherwise has dominated recent elections and outcomes globally, the federal government assures citizens and the global community that it will fiercely and assiduously promote the will and the right of Nigerians to choose and elect their leaders without pressure or assistance from persons or entities that are not constitutionally empowered to participate in the process.”

The statement encouraged citizens to confidently exercise their franchise in an orderly manner, assuring them of adequate security during and after the electoral process, “as well as the readiness of the security forces to confront any plan or attempt to interfere with or disrupt the process whether by elements within or from outside the country.”

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