Most colleagues of Ibrahim Muhammad, acting chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), were absent when he inaugurated members of the election tribunal in Abuja on Saturday.
Of the 15 supreme court judges, only Sidi Bage and Muhammad were at the swearing-in ceremony, the first official assignment of Muhammad who was sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday following the suspension of Walter Onnoghen.
Buhari had suspended Onnoghen over allegations of false assets declaration. The president cited an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), where a six-count charge was filed against Onnoghen.
The suspension of the former CJN has sparked outrage, with critics of the Buhari administration describing it as anti-democratic.
In separate statements, the US, UK and EU said the action could have effect on the general election.
At the occasion, Muhammad said the judiciary “is in trying times”, asking members of the bar and bench to stand, protect and “uphold the integrity of this arm of government”.
“I encourage you to uphold and enhance the honour and standing of the judiciary and I pray that the Almighty God will bestow upon you strength, good health and wisdom in the performance of your duties,” he said.