– It appears that President Muhammadu Buhari has now changed his mind on a major issue
– The president has now resolved to appoint Justice Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN)
– There have been loud calls from various quarters for the president to make the move
A report by Leadership indicates that President Muhammadu Buhari has resolved to appoint Justice Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Is the storm over for Justice Walter Onnoghen?
There has been concerns over whether Onnoghen would become substantive CJN since the president was yet to forward his name to the Senate barely a week to the end of the three months that he can hold the post on acting capacity.
But the report quoted a source in the presidency saying the issue has been resolved, adding that the presidency and the attorney-general of the federation had a meeting with Justice Onnoghen at 2am last night.
Justice Onnoghen’s stay as acting CJN is meant to expire on Teusday, February 7.
The source said: “They presented to Onnoghen the dossier the security agencies have on him to go through, showing why they delayed to confirm him. He would have to guard against some of these things when he takes full charge of the judiciary.”
With this development, Acting President Yemi Osibanjo is expected to forward a letter on behalf of President Buhari to the Senate for Justice Onnoghen’s confirmation anytime soon.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) headed by the immediate past CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, had on October 12, 2016 recommended and forwarded Onnoghen’s name to the president for appointment as the next CJN in line with Section 231 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Consequently, President Buhari swore in Justice Onnoghen who was the most senior justice of the Supreme Court as the acting CJN in line with Section 231 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
However, the delay by President Buhari to forward Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation and subsequently to appoint him as the substantive CJN began to generate heat in the polity and drew reactions from some individuals and groups in the country.
Federal lawmakers from Cross River State had on Tuesday, January 31 raised concerns about the delay, saying it was due to ethnic considerations.
Former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) also added his vocie to the debate, warning that the Buhari government was setting a dangerous precedent by causing Onnoghen to linger on the post of acting CJN since November 10 last year.
On his part, Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa dragged the president, the vice-president, the Senate, the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation to court on the issue compelling the court to make sure that Onnoghen emerges the next CJN.