News, Politics

Massive War In Supreme Court, Judiciary Under Threat, As Acting CJN Tanko Faces Immediate Dismissal

The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, ACJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has said that the suspended Justice Walter Onnoghen, remains the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Muhammad stated that he would step aside, once the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, or the Appeal Courts reverse Onnoghen’s matter.

He however, claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari does not need the permission of the National Judicial Council, NJC, to appoint an Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

This was part of Justice Muhammad’s response to a query given to him by the NJC.

Justice Muhammad pointed out that the NJC ought to be consulted, only when a substantive CJN is being appointed or re-appointed.

He said: “In my respectful view, the National Judicial Council has no role to play in the appointment of an Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria in the first instance, that is to say on first appointment.

“The Council comes in where the appointment as the Acting CJN is to be renewed or extended. I humbly refer to section 231 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.

“It was for the larger interest of the Judiciary and the constitutionality, that I accepted to be sworn-in as Acting CJN, with the conviction that if the order of January 23, 2019, is eventually set aside, the status quo would be restored.

“But before it is set aside, there should be no vacuum in the Office of the CJN and the Chairman of the NJC.

“On January 25, 2019, I was summoned to the Aso Villa, at the instance of the President. Prior to the summons, I was not aware of the fact that the Code of Conduct Tribunal made any order on January 23, 2019.

“Furthermore, beyond what I read in the newspapers and watched on the television just like any other Nigerian, I was not privileged to see any of the processes filed by the parties before the Tribunal. Hence, I could not really appreciate the merit or demerit of divergent positions.

“On the 25th day of January, the President swore me in as the Acting CJN and not as the substantive CJN. Justice Walter Onnoghen remains the CJN, until he is removed from Office in accordance with the provision of the Constitution. He is only suspended.”

The Acting CJN, said that he was a member of the NJC Panel that removed Justice Obisike Orji of the Abia State High Court, for accepting to be sworn-in as the Chief Judge, by the Abia State Government, without a recommendation of the NJC, but added that his own case was different, because he was only appointed as an Acting CJN.

Muhammad appealed to the NJC, to throw aside the petition written against him by a group, Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

The group had written a petition to the NJC, demanding the Council to remove Muhammad as a Justice of the Supreme Court.

They disclosed that Muhammad compromised, by allowing himself to be sworn-in by the President, without recourse to the NJC.


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