GUARDIAN: Onnoghen’s job as CJN hangs in the balance pending Senate confirmation.

About one and a half months after Justice Walter Onnoghen was sworn in as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), hopes that his appointment would be confirmed are getting dimmer.

Onnoghen was appointed the acting CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 11, 2016 following the retirement of the immediate past CJN, Mohammed Mahmud on November 10.

This is the first time the holder of the office would be appointed in acting capacity for such a length of time in recent times. He now has till February 10, 2017 to get his appointment validated by the National Assembly or be removed from office.

Section 321 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended stipulates that any person so appointed “shall cease to have effect after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment, and the President shall not re-appoint a person whose appointment has lapsed”, meaning that Justice Onnoghen, if not confirmed, would leave the office.

Stakeholders are deeply concerned that the uncertainty over whether Onnoghen would be the substantive CJN or not, might impede justice administration and judicial reforms in the country.

This development also confirms worries from different quarters that there are grand plots to deny justices from the Southern part of Nigeria the opportunity of heading the apex court. The next in rank to Justice Onnoghen is a Northerner, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad from Bauchi State.

The last time a Southerner headed the apex court was in 1985, when Justice Ayo Gabriel Irikefe held sway. Since then, the North has produced virtually all the CJNs. Justice Mohammed Bello took over from Irikefe from 1987 to1995. Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais served between 1995 and 2006; Justice Salisu Modibo Alfa Belgore (2006-2007), Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi (2007-2009), Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu (2009-2011), Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar (2012-2014) and Justice Mahmud Mohammed who began to serve from 2014 till November 10, 2016.

Underscoring the seriousness of the issue, a Lagos lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja asking the court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to forward Onnoghen’s name to the National Assembly for confirmation.

Respondents in the suit are Buhari, attorney general of the federation, federal judicial service commission, Justice Onnoghen and the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Among other prayers, the plaintiff wants the court to declare that by Section 231(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the first respondent as the head of the executive arm of government cannot handpick and/or choose who he wants to be the head of the judicial arm of government.

A retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye, is unhappy with the development. According to her, the appointment of Onnoghen in acting capacity may affect reforms in the judicial sector.

Speaking to The Guardian, Justice Adekeye, who retired from the Supreme Court in October 2012, having attained the mandatory retirement age of 70 years, maintained it would be difficult for a CJN in acting capacity to introduce reforms in the judicial sector since he is not sure of his time frame in office.

She said: “When you have an acting CJN, who can be removed at any time, he will lay down whatever he wants to do as a substantive CJN but will wait until he is appointed properly.

“It is very important. When you have a solid tenure of office and you know what to do, you can swing into action.”When your tenure is not certain, you do not know what to do. That surely will affect the Nigerian judiciary; not only in the dispensation of justice but in several other ways.

“But no reform can be done now when you do not know your position. This is the first time we are having an acting CJN. It has never happened in Nigeria. May God help us in Nigeria.”

Justice Adeyeke further charged government to always adhere to constitutional provisions in its decisions and actions.”The Constitution must be strictly followed. There is a provision in the Constitution for the appointment of the CJN. It says the next in rank.”So, we do not know whatever reason the government may have to appoint Justice Onnoghen in acting capacity,” she said.

FLASH: EFCC Chairman-designate, Mr Magu awaits confirmation session at the NASS

Information reaching Omojuwa.Com from inside the National Assembly revealed that the Senate is locked in a closed door session since the last hour whilst Mr. Magu, Chairman-designate of EFCC waits patiently in a holding room for his confirmation that is slated to hold today.

 

Recall that the Nigerian Senate rescheduled Mr Magu’s confirmation to December the 15th.

 

The Presidency had in July written the Senate seeking the screening and confirmation of Mr. Magu as substantive chairman of the commission.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Mr. Magu as acting chairman of the EFCC after the removal of Ibrahim Lamorde on November 9, 2015.

 

Before his appointment, Mr. Magu was the Head of Economic Governance Unit of the commission.

 

If confirmed, Mr. Magu will be the fourth head of the anti-graft agency, after Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri and Ibrahim Lamorde.

PDP Senators Reject Amaechi’s Confirmation

There was a mild drama yesterday during Senate plenary when Senators from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) refused to support the approval of the votes and proceedings of last week Thursday.

PDP Senators had walked out of the Chamber when their All Progressives Congress (APC) counterparts subdued them to confirm a former governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, as a minister.

Amaechi was accused by the state government of mismanagement of the resources when he was governor. On that basis, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions investigated the claim and recommended that the Senate should not confirm him (Amaechi) since the matter was still pending in court.

After intense dialogue, persuasion and disagreements, the ruling party confirmed him, demonstrating that in democracy, minority will always have their say and the majority will have their way.

Credit: Sunonline

Senate Begins Confirmation Of New INEC Appointments

The Senate has begun the confirmation of the INEC leadership, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (INEC Chairman) Amina Zakari (Jigawa) Dr. Antonla Okoosi[Kogi], Baba Arfo[Borno], Dr. Mohammed Mustafa[Edo], Soyebi Solomon[Ogun].

First was Mr Solomon who advocated for electronic voting as a means of eliminating errors and overcoming logistics bottlenecks.

He believes the use of card readers must be reviewed for better future use, adding that INEC should train and re-train staff on the use of new technologies introduced by the commission.

He also noted that politicians must adhere strictly to stipulated rules.

On the other hand Dr. Mustafa insists that the role of technology is irreversible in the conduct of elections.

While Amina Zakari says INEC needs to be more transparent in its dealings with members of the public.

Mr. Arfo believes the role of INEC is key in the conduct of primary elections.

The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu says there is need to consolidate on the successes of the 2015 elections. “There are challenges with the use of the card readers but it is the way to go. Jega has done a marvelous job and I will consolidate on his achievements. My long term goal is to conduct elections where Nigerians will vote seamlessly”.

Credit: ChannelsTV