THE Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Thursday, asked Nigerians to give President Muhammadu Buhari a free hand to perform his constitutional duty concerning his confirmation as the substantive head of the Judiciary. In a statement signed by his media aide, Awassam Bassey, Justice Onnoghen stressed that President Buhari does not need any threat or ultimatum to transmit his name to the Senate for confirmation.
While appreciating Nigerians for their support to him, Justice Onnoghen distanced himself from “those individuals and groups” issuing threats and ultimatum to the President. The statement read: “The Honourable Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship, the Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, CFR, FNJI, wishes to appeal to Nigerians to allow Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, a free hand to perform his constitutional duties concerning the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“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. 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 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.”
President Buhari had on November 10, 2016, okayed Onnoghen who is presently the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, to head the Nigeria judiciary in acting capacity. The appointment which was based on recommendation letter from the National Judicial Council, NJC, followed retirement of former CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who bowed out upon clocking the 70 years mandatory retirement age.
According to section 231(5) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, “Except on the recommendation of the NJC”, Onnoghen’s appointment by President Buhari “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 elapsed.” – Vanguard
— Feb 2, 2017 @ 18:30 GMT