CJN Onnoghen pledges to tackle infrastructural deficit in lower courts

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has pledged to address poor infrastructural facilities, currently militating against the smooth flow of judicial proceedings in lower courts across the country.

Mr. Onnoghen made this known at a national workshop for judges, in Abuja with the theme: “Enhancing Administration of Justice in the Area, Sharia/Customary Courts”.

The CJN, who was represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Olu Ariwoola, also advised judicial officers in the lower courts to not allow themselves to be deterred by the current facility situation in the respective courts.

“We cannot behave like the proverbial ostrich and hide away from the fact that there are major issues plaguing the lower courts,” he said.

“I am aware that these courts have poor infrastructure and can be very uncomfortable to sit in for long period of time.

“Bathroom facilities are non-existent, stationary and basic office equipment are also not available and welfare is generally considered inadequate.

“You are usually the first point of contact the public has with courts. This negative perceptions can only be redressed when we act according to the dictates of the law, ethics and our conscience,” he said.

Mr. Onnoghen noted the indispensable role of the lower courts towards ensuring the adequate and efficient dispensation of justice in a democratic setting and urged the staff to remain dedicated to their duties.

He reiterated the commitment of the NJC towards ensuring that new polices and laws are put in place to bridge current challenges experienced in the course of justice.


Source: Premium Times

Respect for rule of law will end our woes, says Onnoghen.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday inaugurated Justice Walter Onnoghen as the new Chief Justice of Nigeria with a call on him to restore confidence in the country’s judiciary.

“The mere perception of judicial malfeasance poisons the waters of justice let alone the reality, while delays in the administration of justice often defeats the end of justice,?” Osinbajo told Onnoghen.

The inauguration was a befitting end for the citizens’ insistence on the confirmation of Onnoghen as the substantive CJN. But that Onnoghen emerged as the CJN after this campaign imposes on him the necessity of justifying the citizens’ confidence by ensuring that justice is dispensed by the judiciary at all times.

The acting president noted that Onnoghen came when all arms of government had suffered a loss of respect of the people .

He said: “When lords and justices of our courts are called upon to resuscitate that confidence that the people ?of this nation want to have in the institutions of government and indeed in the judiciary, the responsibility is an awesome one. It is the closest that man serves as the Almighty God having powers of lives, livelihoods and futures, having power to give and indeed to take away power, and authority to supervise all men and women to whom our law and constitution have given the position of judgeship.

“Since we do not force men and women to be judges, they voluntarily take on the position of high priests in the temple of justice. They will of course be held to a much higher standard, a much higher moral and ethical standard than the rest of us. They must not only be seen to be just, they must be just indeed.

“Yesterday I had a discussion with President Buhari, not only did he extend his personal warm wishes and congratulations, he asked that I personally convey that to you, and I do so now.

“I congratulate you on behalf of Mr. President, all members of your family and the entire judiciary. I believe that the choice that the people of this nation have made is a right one indeed and I pray that you will leave up to all of the expectations.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki who fielded questions after the inauguration said: “We want to see a judiciary that will also cooperate with other arms of government in doing a lot of reforms. And I think he has about four years, and that gives time for a lot of reforms in the judiciary.
“I am confident that with time on his side and his commitment to some of the issues he has talked about in trying to ensure that the judiciary is independent, a lot is expected of him.

We wish him all the best.

“The same way, we need to give support, for example, to the constitutional review ?that will also address some of the issues that will make the judiciary more efficient.”

Earlier in the Council Chamber, Justice Onnoghen promised to adhere to the rule of law in the dispensation ?of justice throughout his tenure.

“As the head of the judiciary, I assure you that from the past experience, the key to everything in a democratic setting is adherence to the rule of law. There lies the solution to our problems. Let us try to encourage the independence of the judiciary so as to ensure the rule of law,” he said.

Onnoghen attributed the relative peace despite the controversy which trailed his confirmation, to Nigerians ?who kept faith and prayed without ceasing, including fasting to ensure his inauguration as substantive CJN.

“To Nigerians of all walks of life, of all faiths, who have kept faith with this, who had prayed without ceasing, some had even fasted, I say thanks very much.

“I urge you to continue to pray for this country because if you notice, there has been peace. All that pressure that was mounting everything just died down and that is to the glory of God. I’m eternally grateful to Nigerians.

“I’m very much grateful to God and Mr. President and to the Senate for finding me worthy. I had earlier on November 10, 2016 been sworn in as the acting Chief Justice by the president, today happens to be the final milestone and I am very much grateful.

Justice Onnoghen also solicited the cooperation of all Nigerians to enable him to carry out the measures he has already initiated ?to strengthen the judicial system.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State urged Onnoghen to reform and reposition the judiciary as well as defend its independence.


Source: The Guardian

CJN Onnoghen Will Revive Judiciary – Saraki

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, says the newly sworn in Chief Justice of Nigeria Mr Walter Onnoghen has enough time on his hands to revive the judiciary.

Speaking to journalists after the swearing in ceremony, Saraki stated that the Senate had drilled the CJN when he appeared before the House for confirmation.

According to him, the Senate took him up on important issues such as the independence of the judiciary.

He then expressed optimism that Justice Onnoghen has all it takes to turn the judiciary around within four years.

“We want to see an independent Judiciary, we want to see a judiciary that would also co-operate with other arms of government, doing a lot of reforms.

“I am confident that with time on his side and with commitment to some of the issues he has talked about, he would deliver.

“A lot is expected of him, Usually, CJNs have a very short period of time, but he would have no excuse not to deliver on reforming the judiciary – we hope he does that and we wish him all the best.”

Other dignitaries that witnessed the swearing in ceremony at the Presidential Villa include: former CJNs members of the Federal Executive Council, Justices of the Supreme Court, his family members, among others.


Source: Channels TV

BREAKING: Osinbajo swears in Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has sworn in Walter Onnoghen as the 17th Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The swearing-in ceremony was conducted Tuesday inside the council chambers of Aso Rock presidential villa, Abuja.

Mr. Onnoghen, a native of Cross River state, was first appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as acting CJN on November 10, 2016 after the retirement of former CJN, Mahmoud Mohammed.

Mr. Osinbajo returned his name to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation as substantive CJN on February 8.

The Senate screened and confirmed him on March 1.

Mr. Osinbajo said President Muhammadu Buhari had asked him to let the new CJN know that he was assuming office at a time “when all arms of government suffers from loss of confidence from the people”.

He also said Mr. Buhari expressed the belief that the tenure of the new CJN will help revive and sustain the people’s confidence.

Mr. Osinbajo said it was time to show Nigerians that the choice they made in bringing in the administration was the right one.

Speaking earlier, the new CJN said his complete loyalty was with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He pledged to continue to keep to his oath of office and solicited the cooperation of all Nigerians.

Mr. Onnoghen said the key to achieving good governance in Nigeria lies in respecting the rule of law.

“To Nigerians who had kept the faith, some have even fasted, I say a big thank you,” he said.

Part of the swearing-in ceremony is the investiture of the Grand Commander of the Niger, GCON, on the new CJN by the acting president.

Those who attended the event include Senate President Bukola Saraki, former CJN Mohammed Mahmud, Justices of the Supreme Court and other divisions as well as Ministers, and Mr. Onnoghen’s family members.


Source: Premium Times

Onnoghen’s confirmation imminent as Osinbajo writes the Senate.

Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday read the letter from Acting President Yemi Osinbajo urging the confirmation of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) at the plenary.

Onnoghen has been in office in acting capacity since November last year and his tenure elapsed on February 10, 2017. The National Judicial Council (NJC), which had nominated Onnoghen for the position, re-nominated him on February 9, a day before the expiration of his three-month tenure.

The acting president’s letter reads in part: “Following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), I hereby notify you of the appointment of the Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen CFR as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Also, Saraki yesterday read the letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking the extension of his vacation in the U.K.

Saraki told senators he met President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently on vacation in London, in “good health,” adding that the president will be back with them in the country very soon.

“I am happy to report that we met the President in good spirit, in good health, chatty as usual and convey his best wishes and hopes to be back very soon.”

Meanwhile, Acting President Osinbajo will launch Sovereign Green Bonds at the conference for investors and capital markets operators at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos on Thursday.

A statement made available to The Guardian indicated that the conference is organised by the Federal Ministry Environment in collaboration with Ministry of Finance and Debt Management Office.

The Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed, was quoted as saying that Green Bonds Project present a huge opportunity to discuss next step in the diversification of the economy and it will bring together institutional investors, banking finance and young social entrepreneurs.


Source: The Guardian

CJN Onnoghen Urges States To Domesticate Criminal Justice Act

The Acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has called on state governments to domesticate and implement the Criminal Justice Act.

This according to him, is to effectively resolve the challenge of prison congestion and delay in courts.

Represented by the Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, at a judicial colloquium on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in Abuja, the CJN noted that the application of the Federal Law through the state Houses of Assembly, would fast track judicial decisions which would in turn protect and empower citizens.

Furthermore, she revealed that 70% of the prison population in the country are awaiting trial; a situation she says speaks volumes of the system.

However, after years of mere talk, the judiciary have once again swung open the doors of reforms in the justice system, while also hoping that the government would invest in it more, so as to meet growing demands.

The Politicization Of The Appointment Of The CJN Is Dangerous – Okoi Obono-Obla

The orchestrated personal attacks, innuendoes, accusations and allegations being leveled against President Muhammadu Buhari by some interest groups including some senior lawyers over his alleged delay in the nomination of Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria is totally and entirely misplaced and wrong.

The opportunistic and self-serving campaign by some senior lawyers and groups is regrettable and unacceptable.

I make bold to say that President Muhammadu Buhari has not violated any provision of the Constitution as far as the issue of the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria is concerned.

It is settled that Justice Ayo Salami was removed from office as President of the Court of Appeal on the 11th August 2011; late Justice Dalhatu Adamu was appointed Acting President of the Court of Appeal by then President Goodluck Jonathan in August 2011. He held the office of President of the Court of Appeal in an acting capacity for 15 over months.

After 15 months as Acting President of the Court of Appeal the name of late Justice Dalhatu was not eventually recommended and to President Jonathan for nomination as the substantive President Court of Appeal by the National Judicial Council; rather the name of Justice Zainab Bulkachawa was recommended by the National Judicial Council and sent by the then President Goodluck Jonathan to the Senate on March 19, 2014, for confirmation.

Before then, Justice Zainab Bulkachawa was appointed Acting President of the Court of Appeal by President Jonathan and was in office for almost one year before her name was sent to the Senate for confirmation as President of the Court of Appeal.

It follows that the Court of Appeal had an Acting President from August 2011 to March 2014; where were these senior lawyers who are now giving the impression that there had never any precedence over the appointment of an acting appointment concerning senior judicial appointments in the country then?

Some of the senior lawyers who are vociferous in the condemnation of President Muhammadu Buhari now were then members of the National Judicial Council, but they buried their heads in the ground like the ostrich!

It is misleading for these senior lawyers to create the impression that there has never been any precedence concerning the appointment of an Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

One time Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi was appointed Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria in January 2007 by then President, Olusegun Obasanjo before he was eventually nominated and confirmed by the Senate!

Where were these senior lawyers who are unethically and unreasonably trying to politicize the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria?

On September 9th 2009, the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi (as he then was) sworn into office Honourable Justice Dantshoho Abutu (as he then was) as the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court after the retirement of then Chief Judge, Honourable Justice Mustapha Abdullahi (as he then was) on the 4th September, 2009.

The appointment of Honourable Justice Dantshoho Abutu (as then was) as Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court was okayed by the then late President Umaru Musa Yaradua.

Are these senior lawyers now trying to lie to us suffering from amnesia? Or are they simply mischievous?

In so many States of the Federation, we had had these Acting appointments of Chief Judges of these States. Presently in Enugu State, the Chief Judge is in acting capacity!

Gladly Honourable Justice Onnoghen has wisely and maturely issued a statement disassociating himself from these unwarranted and needless campaign and attacks on the person of President Buhari by these self-seeking and opportunistic meddlesome interlopers.

One would have expected these senior lawyers to meet and discuss with the learned Honourable Attorney General of the Federation or even the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the matter (who is also a senior lawyer and much-respected voice in the country legal circles) but they are unfortunately and busy grandstanding and trying to further desecrate the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria by politicising it!

NJC wants Onnoghen to continue as Acting CJ pending Senate confirmation

Hours after the presidency confirmed that Walter Onnoghen’s name had been sent to the Senate for confirmation as Nigeria’s Chief Justice, the National Judicial Council, NJC, asked that he remains in acting capacity until his confirmation.

Mr. Onnoghen was due to vacate his role as acting chief justice on February 10 unless he was confirmed as substantive chief justice or his acting role was renewed based on a recommendation of the NJC.

The NJC after its meeting on Wednesday wrote to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo seeking continuation of Mr. Onnoghen’s role as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, multiple officials sources told PREMIUM TIMES.

The NJC recommendation will enable Mr. Onnoghen continue in acting position pending his confirmation as substantive Chief Justice by the Senate.

“The NJC wrote to the acting president today in order to beat the deadline of the expiration of the previous letter and for him to continue acting as the CJN while awaiting confirmation by the Senate,” a top judiciary official told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Osinbajo dispatched a notice of Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination to the Senate.

“Hon. Justice W.S. Onnoghen’s name has been sent to the Senate for confirmation as the next CJN,” the presidency said in a tweet shortly before noon Wednesday.

The announcement came four months after Mr. Onnoghen was first recommended to Mr. Buhari as the next head of the country’s judiciary.

The president had until February 10 to recommend Mr. Onnoghen as substantive chief justice or the latter loses the position based on a constitutional provision.

The president’s delay in nominating Mr. Onnoghen as substantive chief judge despite the NJC recommendation fuelled allegations of ethnic bias and criticisms against Mr. Buhari.


Although, like many Nigerians, the Senate keenly anticipated Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination for weeks, it will not reconvene to quickly deliberate on his fate, sources said.

The Senate embarked on a three-week recess on January 26 to give members extra time to work on the 2017 budget which is still under consideration in both chambers of the parliament.

But multiple senators in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES acknowledged that the Senate received the president’s letter on Mr. Onnoghen, but his confirmation hearing could wait until lawmakers returned from recess on February 21.

“Today is Wednesday and no message has gone out to senators that they must reconvene by tomorrow,” the source said. “Clearly, that tells you that we won’t be doing anything about it this week.”

“The letter we received will not be read on the floor of the Senate until February 21.”

Another senator said there was no need to expedite the process, especially as the NJC had written to the presidency seeking an extension of Mr. Onnoghen’s role as acting chief justice.

“I learnt that the NJC already wrote to the president that the judge should continue acting until we confirm him,” the source said. “Frankly, I don’t see the need for any rush.”

The Senate had also refused to cut short its recess despite receiving a letter from President Buhari to extend his medical vacation in the UK.

Senate spokesperson Aliyu Sabi said the lawmakers would only discuss the president’s letter after their resumption on February 21.

Poised for confirmation 

A member of Senate judiciary committee told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Onnoghen “will most likely be confirmed” because “we know him as an incorruptible and upright judge.”

“He is qualified to head the Supreme Court and we will give him all the support he needs to scale through,” the source said.

Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination is likely to be forwarded to the Senate Judiciary Committee for initial actions, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

The Cable: President Buhari asks Osinbajo to forward Onnoghen’s name to the senate.

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to forward the name of Walter Onnoghen, acting chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), to the senate for confirmation.

In a letter seen by TheCable, Buhari said the name should be transmitted to the upper legislative chamber before February 10 when Onnoghen’s tenure in acting capacity would elapse.

“Your Excellency may recall that I sent a letter dated 10th November, 2016, to Honourable Jutice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen CFR, appointing him as acting chief justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the letter read.

“His acting appointment is due to lapse on the 10th of February, 2017. I am therefore, authorising you to write to the Distinguished Senate, in conformity with section 231 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, requesting for the confirmation of the same Honourable Jutice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen CFR, as the substantive Chief Justice of the Federation with effect from the date of the senate confirmation.

“Please accept, Mr Acting President, the assurances of my kind regards.”

TheCable understands that the acting president has since sent the request for confirmation to the senate.

There have been controversies over the delay in the confirmation of Onnoghen, who is the first individual from the south to attain that height in 30 years.

Ayo Irikefe was the chief justice of Nigeria between 1985 and 1987, and he was succeeded by Mohammed Bello.

The delay in confirming Onnoghen had sparked controversy, with many accusing the president of ethnic bias.

Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, former military governor of Kaduna state, had urged the senate not to confirm any nominee apart from Walter Onnoghen.

Onnoghen had appreciated the interest of Nigerians in the issue, but called for restraint.

“Nigerians should allow President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, a free hand to perform his constitutional duties concerning the appointment of a substantive chief justice of Nigeria,” he had said in a statement issued on his behalf by Awassam Bassey, his media aide.

On Monday, TheCable conducted a poll on whether Osinbjao should forward Onnoghen’s name to the senate.

Majority of the respondents voted in support of the idea.

Buhari is currently on medical vacation in the UK.


Source: The Cable

Acting CJN: No need to threaten Buhari over my appointment

Walter Onnoghen, acting chief justice of Nigeria, has appealed to Nigerians to give President Muhammadu Buhari a “free hand” to perform his constitutional duties.

The refusal of Buhari to send Onnoghen’s name to the senate for confirmation has attracted criticisms.

Earlier on Thursday, Abubakar Umar, former military governor of Kaduna state, urged the senate not to confirm any nominee for the position of chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) apart from  Onnoghen.

He accused the president of being pro-north, saying the lack of explanation on the delay has left Nigerians “ guessing and speculating”.

But the acting chief justice has called for restraint.

“Nigerians should allow President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, a free hand to perform his constitutional duties concerning the appointment of a substantive chief justice of Nigeria,” he said in a statement issued on his behalf by Awassam Bassey, his media aide.

“Honourable Justice Onnoghen believes the president does not need any threat or ultimatum to perform his constitutional duties and therefore dissociates himself from those individuals and groups making such demands on the president.”

Onnoghen expressed gratitude to Nigerians for the interest they have shown in the issue, but maintained that issuing ultimatum amounts to disrespect for the “exalted” office of the president.

“However, the acting chief justice of Nigeria and the Nigerian judiciary sincerely appreciate the interest of Nigerians towards the appointment of a substantive chief justice of Nigeria to oversee the affairs of the judiciary as the third arm of government, but believes that issuing an ultimatum to Mr. President appears to be going too far and smacks of disrespect for the exalted office of the president,” the statement read.

“The acting chief justice therefore appeals for caution on the issue of the appointment of chief justice of Nigeria as Mr President goes about his constitutional duties, especially considering the fact that the given time for him to act as Chief Justice of Nigeria has not expired.

“In conclusion, the Acting Chief Justice wishes to thank all Nigerians for their support and continued prayers while calling on them to back the federal government in the fight to make the country a better place for all.”

Buhari appointed Onnoghen – the most senior justice of supreme court –  as acting CJN on November 16, following the retirement of Mahmoud Mohammed.

Umar says Buhari is pro-north, asks senate to reject any CJN nominee if not Onnoghen

Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, former military governor of Kaduna state, has urged the senate not to confirm any nominee for the position of chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) apart from Walter Onnoghen.


In November, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Onnoghen – the most senior justice of supreme court –  as acting CJN following the retirement of Mahmoud Mohammed.


Since then, the presidency has not forwarded Onnoghen’s name to the senate for confirmation.


His three-month acting term will elapse on February 10.


In a statement on Thursday, Umar said the failure of the presidency to forward Onnoghen’s name to the senate for confirmation without any reason “leaves Nigerians guessing and speculating”.


“In a few days, the tenure of acting appointment of justice Onnoghen will expire. Going by our extant constitution, the acting CJN  will be disqualified  from appointment as the substantive CJN unless the NJC resubmit his  nomination to the president,” Umar said in a statement.


“Already, many analysts view this action as a ploy to deny a southerner his right to succession based on his seniority in keeping with the appointment protocol observed the NJC in making the appointment.


“In the event of this occurrence, the NJC must not forward any other name nor should the senate confirm any other nominee.


“This will serve to check the excesses of this administration and reinforce the unity of the nation which has already been  pushed to the precipice by the recruitment  and appointment policies of a government  which tends to favour the north in violation of the federal character provision of the constitution.”


On Tuesday, the Cross River caucus in the national assembly also asked Buhari to submit the name of Onnoghen to the senate for confirmation without “further delay”.

Afenifere gives Buhari ultimatum over Onnoghen’s confirmation as CJN

The pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has given President Muhammadu Buhari a nine-day ultimatum to forward the name of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Nkanu Onnoghen to the Senate for approval.

At its meeting held in the house of the leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti yesterday in Akure, Ondo State, Afenifere also asked the Federal Government to constitute a committee that will restructure the country.

The position of Afenifere has intensified the call for the confirmation of Onnoghen before his acting period expires.

According to Afenifere, the unity of the race must be paramount irrespective of religious inclination, political affiliation and social background.After over five hours of meeting, the group called for the implementation of the report of the 2014 National Conference to tackle the problems threatening the existence of the country.

Reading the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, Afenifere spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the Yoruba leaders were displeased with the government’s refusal to send the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the National Assembly for confirmation.

Afenifere which lamented that the three months of acting capacity of Onnoghen, as allowed by the constitution, is about to expire, urged Buhari to comply with the recommendation despite the few days left for his tenure to expire.

“We see this as an assault on the constitution if the three months expire and he is not confirmed as CJN of Nigeria. It will be an assault on our constitution and an attempt to crudely end a career of a worthy Nigerian.

“Therefore we call on Mr. President to within the few days left to the expiration of the acting tenure of Justice Onnoghen send his name to the Senate for confirmation as Nigeria CJN, as he is the man in line because that is what the constitution says.”

Afenifere also expressed worry about the mass killing in southern Kaduna, Middle Belt communities, Igboland, Oke-Ogun in Oyo State and other parts of the country where there were clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Odumakin said: “The meeting was elated that the Yoruba have closed ranks as witnessed in the historic gathering which represents a new beginning for the race.

“It is high time the Yoruba nation put aside partisan differences and come together and make Yoruba land and redirect the affairs of Nigeria the way the Yoruba did in the years before independence, when we worked with our friends in Nigeria to negotiate the federal constitution which brought our independence.

“The meeting observed that the state of Nigeria at the moment is very frightening and worrying and uncertainty looms in the air.

“We are worried about the mass killing going on in southern Kaduna and all over Nigeria, and the states appeared to be helpless and sometimes unwilling to curb the excess of these killers.”

Alluding to President Buhari, who is currently in a foreign country for medical treatment, Afenifere emphasised that “Nigeria today lies prostrate in the intensive care of sick countries because we have refused to run Nigeria, the multi-ethnic state, along federal lines.”

The socio-political group resolved to set up a committee to rouse the Yoruba nation and to network with its friends and like-minds across Nigeria to make the country work.

“This country must be restructured before we go for another election because we cannot afford to continue to slide dangerously on the part of anarchy.

“The main focus is to get all hands on deck for the mobilisation towards the implementation of the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference which was submitted to the Federal Executive Council, that is the minimum we demand,” the group said.

Also yesterday, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, sued President Buhari, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, praying for an order to preserve the office of the CJN.

Other respondents in the suit are the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), the Senate, the NJC, Onnoghen and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

The plaintiff is asking the court to direct the president, and in his absence the vice-president, to forward the name of Justice Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as the CJN.

He is also asking for an order of injunction to restrain the president and the vice-president from appointing another candidate for presentation to the Senate, for the office of the CJN, apart from Justice Onnoghen, who is the most senior justice of the Supreme Court and who has already been selected and recommended by the NJC.

In addition, the plaintiff wants the court to stop the Senate from accepting, entertaining, deliberating upon or considering the nomination of any other candidate that may be forwarded to it by the president and the vice-president, apart from Onnoghen.

Adegboruwa also prayed the court to direct Onnoghen to assume and take over and be performing and discharging the duties and functions of the office of the CJN, until such a time that the president would agree to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation or until he retires at the mandatory age of 70 years.

Adegboruwa accused President Buhari of bias against the judiciary which he had allegedly declared as his headache, stressing that the president is deliberately withholding the appointment of Justice Onnoghen in order to destabilise the judiciary and to force him into compulsory retirement, being a Christian from the southern part of Nigeria.The lawyer accused the president of a hidden agenda to perpetrate civilian dictatorship and to implement his ethnic and religious agenda, by frustrating the first CJN from the south in the past 30 years.

He accused the vice-president of failing to act decisively as he did with the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) acting chairman, whose nomination he forwarded to the Senate in the absence of the president.

No hearing date has been fixed for the suit.

Onnoghen’s confirmation will test Buhari’s religious, ethnic ‘bias’ — Lawmakers

Federal lawmakers from Cross River State have said the perception of President Muhammadu Buhari as one guided by ethno-religious considerations in making public choices may be confirmed, should he fail to seek Senate’s confirmation of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria before his tenure as acting head of the Supreme Court expires on February 10.

The lawmakers said this in Abuja on Tuesday at a press conference convened to urge Mr. Buhari (or the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo) to forward Mr. Onnghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation before February 10 when his tenure as acting CJN expires and he will be constitutionally illegible to continue on the bench.

Mr. Onnoghen, 66, is from Cross River State. He is the first southerner to come close to getting appointed CJN, in decades.

The National Judicial Council, in exercise of its powers under Section 231(1) of the 1999 Constitution, had on October 13, 2016 recommended Mr. Onnoghen as the next CJN to President Buhari on the expiration of Mahmud Muhammed’s tenure.

But against convention, Mr. Buhari rather swore in Mr. Onnoghen as acting CJN on Thursday, November 10, 2016, an appointment which will expire on Friday, February 10.

Speaking through John Enoh, a PDP Senator, the lawmakers said already, “There is a growing sentiment in certain quarters that Justice Onnoghen’s earned elevation to the rank of CJN is held in abeyance precisely because he is either not from a particular ethnic origin preferred by powerful forces or his said to be preferred by powerful forces or his profound and at times radical pronouncement make him too principled to occupy that exalted position.”

“The President’s inaction in this instance has acted as cannon fodder for those alluding to a vast conspiracy to deny Justice Onnoghen his earned position,” the lawmakers, numbering 11, added.

As political leaders, they continued, efforts should be made to build a fair and just society, devoid of sectional cleavages; a society where hard work and integrity are rewarded and not repudiated.

The lawmakers said they were worried by the “intriguing cobweb of uncertainties” enveloping the judiciary which, as they said. is a hallowed institution, the bastion of our democracy that “should be insulated from undue influence, politics and manipulation of political predators.”

Therefore, “We call on the Presidency to act in a decisive manner to reassure Nigerians that we are all equal and that if we are able to harness our God-given talents, that we can aspire to the highest position in our nation unencumbered by primordial forces. Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen is eminently qualified to occupy the position of Chief Justice of Nigeria,” they said.

Mr. Onnoghen’s name should be transmitted to the Senate for confirmation “without further delay”, they urged the President, asking him to act “in clear and decisive manner”.

“Any action contrary to this will convey and validate growing sentiments of vendetta,” they said.

An event of the failure of the President to forward Mr. Onnoghen’s name to the Senate without any lawful and constitutional cause, the lawmakers said, would not only threaten the indenpendece of the Judiciary but also open “floodgate of political and social insinuations and entrenched the perception of ethno-regional prejudice and politicization of the judiciary. This is most unfortunate.”

NJC recommends sack of Justice Ononogbo over Corruption

The National Judicial Council (NJC), under the chairmanship of Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has recommended the dismissal of Justice Ugbo Ononogbo of the Abia State High Court of Justice and the compulsory retirement from office of Justice Nasir Gummi of Zamfara State High Court of Justice with immediate effect.

A statement issued yesterday by NJC’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, said the decision to recommend the sack of Justice Ononogbo, which was reached at its 80th meeting held on December 14 and 15, was based on the findings by the Council on petition written against him by Mr. Urum Udensi Ifegwu.

The petition read: “That in a suit No: HOH/25/2013; Mrs. Nnenna Enweliku and 4 Ors Vs Udensi Dike Udensi and 2 Ors, made a blanket order for the payment of unascertained amount as Estate fee from the Access Bank Account of late Lord Chief Dike Udensi Ifegwu to the Probate Registrar of the High Court.

“The Assistant Chief Registrar, Probate Division of the Court, Mr. Udeka U. C. was said to have altered the order of the Judge in a letter to Access Bank requesting the bank to release the sum of N200 million into the personal account of E. M. Ojiako, Esq, Counsel to the Applicant in the Suit, a request which the bank refused to honour.

“The Judge also granted a second Order to vacate the first Order, directing the bank to pay any money assessed by the Probate Registrar for the Estate fee of late Lord Chief Dike Udensi Ifegwu into the personal account of E. M. Ojiako, Esq, without ascertaining the assessment made by the Probate Registrar.

“Out of the N200 million withdrawn as a result of the second Order, E. M. Ojiako, Esq only paid the sum of N83 million to the Probate Registry.

“That there were discrepancies between the representations of parties in the Order made by the Respondent and the representation of parties in the Record Book of the Court to which Justice Ugbo Ononogbo admitted that he did not vet the Order before signing same and that it was an oversight.”

Aside recommending the dismissal of Justice Ononogbo to the Governor of Abia State, NJC also recommended that the Judge, the Assistant Chief Registrar, Probate Division of Abia State High Court, Udeka N. C., and E. M. Ojiako, Esq be handed over to the Police for investigation.

The Council also decided to report E. M. Ojiako, Esq to the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Disciplinary Committee for investigation.

The Abia State Judicial Service Commission is expected to take appropriate action against the Assistant Chief Registrar, Probate Division, Udeka N. C after investigation of the allegations.

Also, Justice Gummi was recommended for compulsory retirement from office to Zamfara State Governor, Abdul Aziz Yari Abubakar, following the findings of Council on allegations brought against him.

The petition held “that the Judge failed to deliver judgment in Suit No: ZMS/GS/13/2013, Chiroma Vs Forte Oil Plc, almost 23 months after the final address by all Counsel in the Suit, contrary to the constitutional provisions that judgments should be delivered within a period of 90 days.

“That the judgment in the Suit was altered by changing the word “dismissal” to “struck out” to which his Court Registrar, Hayatu Wadata Bungudu, admitted was done by him, after which he informed the Judge on phone, as he was out of the state at the time.

“That the Judge assumed jurisdiction in the matter by a ruling, only to dismiss the same action 22 months after, for lack of jurisdiction, after the cause of action had lapsed.”

The Council said it would write to the Zamfara State Judicial Service Commission to take appropriate action against Bungudu for altering his judgment.

Council at the meeting also resolved to issue a letter of strong warning to Justice D. O. Oluwayemi of Lagos State Judiciary for granting an Ex-parte Order in Suit No: LD/2393LMW/16, relying on an affidavit of urgency, which disclosed no threat of destruction of rights or interest in the subject matter of the dispute without putting the other party on notice.

The allegations against Justices Ononogbo and Gummi constitute misconduct, contrary to Sections 294 (1) and (6) of the 1999 Constitution and Rules 3 (i), 11(ii) and 2 of the NJC Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers.

Meanwhile, NJC, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution, has suspended Justices Ononogbo and Gummi from office with immediate effect, pending the approval of the recommendations of the Council for their dismissal and compulsory retirement, respectively, from office by their respective state governors.

Onnoghen may not be substantive CJN because he’s from South-South – Fayose

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has raised the alarm that Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen may not be allowed to become the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

According to Fayose, Justice Onnoghen’s appointment in acting capacity is “either a grand plot to deprive him of his well-deserved appointment as CJN because he is from the South-South region or those cabals in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa want to hold him in the jugular, using his confirmation as substantive CJN to get him to assist them to pervert justice.”

In a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said it was strange that despite the fact that the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended only Justice Onnoghen to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment as the CJN since October 13, 2016, his name was not sent to the Senate for confirmation.

According to him, this is the first time Nigeria is having an acting CJN despite that Justice Onnoghen’s name was sent to President Buhari early enough.

“As at the time the NJC recommended Justice Onnoghen to President Buhari, it was 28 clear days to the November 10, 2016 retirement date of Justice Mahmud Mohammed.

“Why then was his (Justice Onnoghen) name not sent to the Senate for confirmation? Why appointing him as Acting CJN when his name should have been sent to the Senate between October 13, 2016 that he was recommended to the president and November 10, 2016 that Justice Mahmud Mohammed retired?

“Obviously, there is more to this acting CJN appointment than meets the eyes. In my opinion, it could be that President Buhari never wanted Justice Onnoghen as a substantive CJN because he is from the South-South or that they want to use his pending appointment as substantive CJN to make him do their biddings.

“They have subdued the National Assembly and are now in the last stage of muscling democracy by subduing the judiciary.

“If men of good conscience, especially leading lights in the legal profession refuse to raise their voices against this tyranny, they will all be consumed.”

Fayose, who said playing politics with the judiciary, especially at the CJN level, was dangerous to the survival of democracy, urged Justice Onnoghen to do his job without fear or favour, “bearing in mind that it is only God that puts people in positions.”

“I am sure those who made sure Onnoghen’s name was not sent to the Senate for confirmation until the tenure of Justice Mahmud Mohammed expired knew what they were doing. They obviously needed a situation where the CJN, being in acting capacity will be subservient to them, using his appointment as substantive CJN as bait.

“However, Justice Onnoghen must live above that temptation of wanting to be the substantive CJN at the expense of strict adherence to the rule of law and principles of democracy.

“He must resist any attempt to further gag the judiciary even if that will cost him his appointment as the substantive CJN,” the governor said.

New Chief Justice, Onnoghen vows to sack more corrupt judges.

The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen Thursday, vowed to continue with the fight against corruption in the judiciary.

Onnoghen’s inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari followed the expiration of the tenure of Justice Mahmud Mohammed as the CJN. The new CJN will serve in an acting capacity till his appointment is confirmed by the National Assembly.

At the brief ceremony held in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari urged Justice Onnoghen to use his position to assist the government in tackling the three most identifiable problems of corruption, economy and physical insecurity facing the country.

Buhari noted that Onnoghen was assuming office at a trying time for the country, a situation he said required the cooperation of the judiciary to develop the country .

He stressed the need for the judiciary to specifically assist the executive in reinvigorating the country in terms of security and managing it efficiently, while making sure that the economy was resuscitated and the security of doing business was guaranteed.

Earlier in his brief remarks after? taking the oath of allegiance, Justice Onnoghen described the moment as overwhelming, but assured the president of the fullest cooperation of the third arm of government, especially at the existing stage of the nation’s development and the fight against graft.

While thanking Buhari for the confidence reposed in him, the acting CJN promised to continue from where his predecessors had stopped in the struggle to build a better judiciary for the country.

The 66 year-old Onnoghen who became a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2005, said: “?At this state in our development and thought programme, I assure you of the fullest cooperation of the third arm of government in the continuation of the war against corruption and misconduct in the judiciary.

“Where my predecessors stopped I intend to carry on from there, modify certain areas but with the general ultimate aim of having a better judiciary befitting the nation Nigeria.? Thank you for the confidence reposed in me and by the grace of God we shall succeed.”

Justice Mohammed ?urged Nigerians to assist the government “to fish out those corrupt elements within the judiciary.” Fielding questions from State House correspondents immediately after the ceremony, the former CJN said there was the need to fight with vigour in order to deliver a clean judiciary for the nation, and assist in revamping the economy for the interest of Nigerians.

Earlier at the valedictory session held in his honour, Justice Mohammed had reiterated that the independence of judiciary remained a prerequisite for efficient functioning of the society. He said the judiciary as an institution must be protected and carefully handled.

His words: “The independence of the judiciary is a condicio sine qua non for any civilised society to function effectively and peacefully. It is an institution which, more than any other, must be protected, sustained and carefully handled. We must therefore continue to guard the eternal flame of justice in our land in order to ensure that it is not extinguished.

“Where the rule of law is absent and due process disregarded, then the sentinel of civilisation is missing and I am sure we would not desire to see the results that such loss causes.”

Despite the allegations against the third arm of government, Justice Mohammed said he was proud of the judiciary, noting that Nigeria as a nation owed the sector gratitude for guarding the nation’s democracy against threatening political winds.

“Our nation owes the judiciary a debt of gratitude for standing firm in the face of contrary winds that threatened to blow our nation’s democracy off course.

“During the run-up to the 2015 elections, our judicial officers withstood immense pressure in order to guarantee a level playing field and smooth transition of government, which ensured that we were spared a re-enactment of the June 12 saga.

“In fact, the courts, thus securing the electoral process, disallowed so many frivolous matters aimed at truncating the electoral process.

“I must particularly commend the Supreme Court for refusing to be intimidated or influenced by any candidate or political party, and I make no apologies for the firm stand that we took in our decisions.

“I am proud to be a part of the Supreme Court which refused to be cowered into truncating the electoral process. I am proud to have headed this noble arm of government and steering it through some very stormy waters.

“I am proud of the Nigerian judiciary. Indeed, the need to protect the institutions of the judiciary from undue influence was a key concern of mine during my tenure,” the former CJN said.