Buhari shops for new CJN, snubs Justice Onnoghen


President Muhammadu Buhari appears set to break the tradition of appointing the most senior justice of the Supreme Court as the Chief Justice of Ni­geria (CJN) as he searches for the next occupant of the office.

He is believed to have gone beyond the Bench to the Bar, in search of the next substan­tive CJN.

There are also strong indi­cations that the President has rejected the nomination of the Acting Chief Justice of Nige­ria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for the position.

As the deadline of Febru­ary 10, 2016 for the President to confirm Justice Onnoghen as the CJN draws closer, Buhari is shopping for a substantive CJN outside the Supreme Court.

Reliable government sourc­es disclosed that Buhari, who is at present in London on a ten-day medical vacation, has opted to pick a private legal practition­er of “impeccable” character from the South-South geopolitical zone as the new CJN.

Onnoghen hails from Cross River State in the South-South re­gion.

One of the sources who pleaded not to be named in print said that “by picking Justice Onnoghen’s replacement from the South-South region, it would disabuse the minds of Nigerians from the sentiment of Buhari promoting a Northern agenda in his administration.”

Justice Onnoghen was ap­pointed as CJN in acting capaci­ty following the retirement of Jus­tice Mahmud Mohammed upon clocking the mandatory retire­ment age of 70.

The source alleged a grand plan to purge the Supreme Court Bench of justices who have soiled their hands with issues of bribery and corruption.

READ  BREAKING: Buhari meets Akeredolu in Abuja [PHOTOS]

According to the source: “In the incoming weeks and months, there will be a massive compulso­ry retirement of some justices of the Supreme Court. This will pave way for fresh blood to be injected into the system.”

The source added that those to be appointed to the apex court’s Bench are judicial officers whose ideological leanings are tilted to­wards the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The immediate past CJN, Justice Mohammed, while open­ing the 2016/2017 Legal Year in Abuja, cautioned against subvert­ing the age-long tradition of ap­pointing the most senior justice of the Supreme Court to head the country’s judiciary.

Justice Mohammed had said: “Permit me to restate that Section 231 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is clear as to the procedure that must be followed in appointing a Justice of the Su­preme Court or indeed a substan­tive Chief Justice of Nigeria. The National Judicial Council recom­mends, the President of the Fed­eral Republic of Nigeria approves and the Senate confirms such ap­pointments.

“While I would admit that there is no constitutional restric­tion as to where those to be ap­pointed are selected from, the long held practice, which I dare­say had been apolitical, transpar­ent and fair, had been to appoint the most senior justice of the Su­preme Court to the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.”

READ  Student Stabs Landlord to Death for Interrupting Him While Having Sex

“The idea that we can ap­point a legal practitioner, with­out the proven experience or the temperance of character de­veloped through the years of ac­tive participation in adjudication, may indeed be fraught with risk, none greater than the risk of cre­ating another sinecure for par­ty loyalists or reducing the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to one which can be ‘lobbied’ for. This will undoubtedly and irre­versibly hurt our justice system and must be strenuously resisted”.

Also, another ex-CJN, Jus­tice Mohammed Uwais criticised the idea of appointing a private legal practitioner to the apex court Bench.

According to Justice Uwais: “…part of the problem is not just the ability of the judge you want. There is the issue of integrity; if you have been a judge at the High Court or Court of Appeal before coming to the Supreme Court, you would have done cas­es, whether you are a corrupt person, which would have been discovered. And from your judg­ments also, the Court of Appeal would have known how good you are if you are at the High Court. But if you are a legal practitioner, you haven’t written any judgment. So, there is no way you can be as­sessed in that respect.

“Again, you are not under the supervision of anybody when it comes to integrity and those are the two points why we felt any­body who is at the Bar who wants to go to the Supreme Court, should come to the Bench; let him start from the lower Bench”.

READ  Ohaneze To Drag Army To ICC Over Aba Killings ( Video Insert )

Also speaking on the issue, former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief Joseph Daudu (SAN), said that President Buhari’s tardiness in appointing a substantive CJN for the country’s judiciary was “un­healthy.”

Daudu said that the appoint­ment of an Acting CJN by the President was unprecedented and unhealthy for the country’s judiciary, particularly when the NJC had recommended Justice Onnoghen as the candidate for appointment in a substantive ca­pacity.

The senior lawyer declared that the appointment of a CJN was not the exclusive preserve of the Executive arm of govern­ment, saying, “it is a tripartite ar­rangement, which involves the ju­diciary acting through the NJC by way of recommendation, the Ex­ecutive through the President by way of appointment and the leg­islature by way of confirmation of the said appointment”.

The Special Adviser to the President on Prosecution, Mr. Obono Obla, said that the is­sue of not confirming the acting CJN’s appointment was “specu­lative.”

Obla said that the Presiden­cy was yet to take any decision on the matter.

“The President is not aware of any plot to remove the acting CJN. I don’t know about that. It is a rumour. The only thing is that at the appropriate time, the Fed­eral Government will say some­thing about the position of the CJN,” he said.



Be the first to comment!
Leave a reply »


Leave a Response