By Mark C. Orgu, January 29, 2019, news/comments
With the constitutional confusion created by President Muhammadu Buhari, by suspending Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN) , Justice Walter Onnoghen over an alleged non declaration of assets, and single handedly appoints Justice Tanko Mohammed as the acting CJN without following due process, has continued to generate laud outcry by lovers of democracy. On this, many legal luminaries, like Femi Falana, (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, (SAN),,Dr.Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) etc have accused the president of suspending the Nigerian Constitution, and acted on a military ground, which they said is alien and unacceptable.
Meanwhile, some senior lawyers have besieged the court to challenge President Buhari’s action while a former president, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba has petitioned the Acting CJN, Mohammed for violating NJC guideline and formed a coup with President Buhari, by accepting Ag CJN.
However, in trying to resolve the situation, the National Judicial Council (NJC) rose in their meeting today, and gave seven- day ultimatum to the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and the acting CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko to defend the petitions wrote against them.
Moreover, the council further referred to the petition against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) for consideration. It could be recall that Umar has a corruption case abandoned for reasons unknown. This decision to refer Umar to the council was reached at the end of its emergency meeting on Tuesday (today) in Abuja, under the distinguished chairmanship of retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi. The meeting of the NJC was held without Justice Onnoghen and Justice Tanko, at its secretariat.
The petitions are those against Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education, petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative, petition against Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, and petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.
The petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar was referred to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), which is the appropriate constitutional body empowered to deal with it. At the end of the meeting, Soji Oye, Director of information of NJC issued a statement; it reads. “The National Judicial Council held an emergency meeting today and considered four (4) petitions filed at its secretariat. “In line with its procedure, the council also forwarded the petitions against Hon. Justices W.S.N. Onnoghen, and I. T. Muhammad, to them for their responses.
“In view of the gravity of the matters involved, council abridged the usual response period from fourteen (14) to seven (7) working days for the Hon. Justices to respond.
“Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON, and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR excused themselves from the meeting. Consequently, the council elected Hon. Mr. Justice Umaru Abdullahi, former President of the Court of Appeal as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting. Council will reconvene on the 11th February 2019.”
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