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Osinbajo Sidelined, As Abba Kyari Takes Full Charge Of CJN Walter Onnoghen’s Case, In Buhari’s Absence

There was a little bit of confusion on Friday, as the Presidency was yet to confirm the receipt of the letter of resignation by the suspended Chief Justice of the Federation, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

It was reliably gathered that Onnoghen’s resignation letter was submitted to the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, by some Justices of the Supreme Court.

It was however, learnt that the affected Justices arrived at the Presidential Villa, a few minutes after President Muhammadu Buhari left Abuja for Jordan, to participate in the World Economic Forum, WEF, on Thursday.

A Presidency source confirmed that Buhari had before his departure, received the National Judicial Council’s recommendations on the petitions written against Onnoghen, and the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
The report was submitted to the President by his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who was accompanied by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, at about 2:20pm, on the day.

The Director, Information, NJC, Soji Oye, on Wednesday in a statement, confirmed that the Council had sent its report to Buhari, after the conclusion of its investigation into the petitions against Onnoghen and the Acting CJN.

All efforts to speak to the Presidential Spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, on the matter proved abortive, as the duo were outside the country on Official and private engagements.

Onnoghen was born on the December 22, 1950, at Okurike Town, Biase Local Government Area of Cross Rivers.

He began his primary school education at the Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike Town, between 1959 and 1965.

Before his appointment as the Chief Justice of the Federation, he worked with the Ministry of Justice, Ikeja, Lagos, Ogun, between 1978 and 1979, as the Pupil State Counsel.

Between 1989 and 1998, he was a High Court Judge of Cross River Judiciary.
During his time as the High Court Judge of Cross River, he was made the Chairman of Cross River State Armed Robbery and Firm Arms Tribunal, and he held the post for 3 years, from 1990 – 1993.

Sometime in 1996, while still holding the post of High Court Judge of Cross River State, he was appointed the Chairman, Judicial Enquiry into the Crisis between Students of the University of Calabar and Obufa Esuk Orok Community, Calabar.

In 1998, he was the Chairman, Failed Banks Tribunal, Ibadan Zone. Between 1992 and 2004, he served as the Judge, High Court of Rivers State, while from 1998 to 2005, he served as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.

In 2007, Justice Onnoghen played a huge role in the 2007 elections, which saw the late Umaru Yar’Adua elected as President of Nigeria.

He had a dissenting judgment that indeed annulled the Presidential election. His position was however, a minority judgment.

After being nominated as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by the then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, he was confirmed by the Senate, on March 1, 2017, and sworn-in on March 7.

Onnoghen’s trials for false assets declaration started when a petition was filed by the civil rights group, at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, alleging that he owns sundry accounts.

It alleged the accounts were primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself, up to as recently as August 10, 2016, which appeared to have been run in a manner inconsistent with Financial Transparency, and the Code of Conduct for Public Officials.

The trial began on January 14, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, but Onnoghen was absent.

Also, on Wednesday, the National Judicial Council abstained from considering allegations relating to the assets declaration that were levelled against Onnoghen.

On February 11, the Council set up a Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committee, to review the responses given to it by Onnoghen, and Muhammad, who is Acting in his stead.

Onnoghen is accused of failing to fully declare his assets, while Muhammad is facing allegations of misconduct.

The NJC however, said that it reconvened and resolved to constitute into the Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committee, in accordance with Regulation 17 of the National Judicial Council Judicial Discipline Regulations, 2017.

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