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Onnoghen Set To Step In As CJN Bows Out Thursday

 
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed is due to re­tire from the country’s judiciary on Thursday when he will clock the mandatory 70 years.
Barring any last minute change, Justice Mohammed, who ascended the hallowed seat of the CJN in 2014, is most likely to be succeeded by Justice Walter Onnoghen who is the most sen­ior justice in the Supreme Court.
Recently, the outgoing CJN, while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2016/2017 Le­gal Year in Abuja, warned against the appointment of his succes­sor from outside the Supreme Court, adding that the country’s judiciary has sustained the age-long succession-by-seniority for the appointment of the next CJN.
Consequently, the nominat­ing body, the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), presented Justice Onnoghen for the office.
If Onnoghen becomes the CJN, he will retire on Decem­ber 20, 2020 when he will be 70.
One of the most recent land­mark decisions delivered by Jus­tice Onnoghen was the verdict of the Supreme Court which or­dered the Senate President Bu­kola Saraki to return to the Code of Conduct Tribunal to face his trial over alleged false assets dec­laration.
Adhering to the seniori­ty tradition, the commission also nominated alongside On­noghen, the next justice to him, Justice Tanko Mohammed, as stand-by nominee, as well as an­other senior justice.
If Tanko clinches the office, he will retire in 2024 when he will be 70.
The stand-by nominee is de­signed for consideration if the original nominee is rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari who is the appointing authority.
The President will forward his nominee to the Senate for screening and confirmation as CJN.
There has been no prece­dent of such rejection by the Presidency, though a couple of state governors had shunned the council’s Choices in recent past.
Three names would be for­warded to the National Judi­cial Council (NJC), which is the recommending authority. The council would, in turn, recom­mend two names to the Presi­dent.
The Cross River-born On­noghen is the first claimant to the judiciary plum job from Southern Nigeria in the last 29 years.
The last Southern CJN was Justice Ayo Gabriel Irikefe, who retired in 1987. There has been seven northern CJNs in-be­tween.

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