Three days to go, Presidency may still confirm Onnoghen as Chief Justice – Official

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen

Three days to a constitutional deadline to confirm Walter Onnoghen as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, the presidency has given the clearest indication yet that it may still confirm the judge.

The spokesperson to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo,  Laolu Akande, gave this indication on Monday in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

When asked if Mr. Onnoghen’s name will be submitted by the acting president to the Senate before the February 10 deadline, Mr. Akande said, “There is still time, today is February 6, we will find out what will happen, there is still time.”

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mr. Onnoghen’s role as Acting Chief Justice will lapse on February 10 after which President Muhammadu Buhari or Mr. Osinbajo as acting president would be unable to submit the judge’s name to the Senate any more based on a constitutional provision.

Several lawyers and activists have since condemned the president for not submitting Mr. Onnoghen’s name and not addressing Nigerians on reasons for his inaction, since the name was forwarded to him in October, 2016 by the National Judicial Council, NJC.

Influential statesman, Abubakar Umar, advised the NJC not to submit any other name to the president should he fail to submit Mr Onnoghen’s name to the Senate as appropriate.

“Already, many analysts view this action as a ploy to deny a Southerner his right to succession  based on  his seniority in keeping with the appointment protocol observed (by) the NJC in making the appointment,” Mr. Umar, a retired colonel, said.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

“In the event of this occurrence, the NJC must not forward any other name nor should the Senate confirm any other nominee.”

Also at its meeting on January 31, the Yoruba Socio-Political group, Afenifere, condemned Mr. Buhari for ‘refusing’ to forward the recommendations of the National Judicial Council for the confirmation of Mr. Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria.

“Afenifere is worried that almost few days to the end of the three months tenure in acting capacity allowed by our constitution, the President has refused to forward the recommendations of the NJC in respect of Justice Onnoghen to the National Assembly for confirmation.

“We see this as an assault on the constitution if the three months tenure expires and he is not confirmed as the CJN of Nigeria.

“It is an attempt to cruelly end the career of a worthy Nigerian. Therefore, we call on the President to within the few days left to the expiration of the tenure of the Acting CJN to send his name to the Senate for confirmation as Nigeria’s CJN,” the group said.

Mr. Onnoghen has also spoken on the controversy, asking Nigerians not to pressure Mr. Buhari into submitting his name as substantive chief justice.

Many Nigerians had expected President Buhari to arrive Nigeria by Monday when he was scheduled to resume after an announced 10 working days vacation. The president was expected to, upon his arrival on February 6, address the controversy surrounding the appointment of the head of Nigeria’s judiciary.

However, the onus now lies on Mr. Osinbajo to act after Mr. Buhari extended his vacation.

It was in reaction to what action his principal would take that Mr. Akande made the statement.

Mr. Akande also spoke on the media report that Mr. Onnoghen has been cleared by the State Security Service, SSS (also called DSS), of any wrongdoing.

“I did not know of any investigations and I am not going to talk on that,” he said.

Col Abubakar Umar
Col Abubakar Umar

Mr. Onnoghen has also said he is not aware he was investigated or cleared by the SSS.

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, his media assistant, Awassam Bassey, said he was not in the know of any investigation of his principal by the SSS or of any report on him.

“We were just informed through the media like yourself. I was just with His Lordship and we were looking at it. Frankly speaking, we are not the source quoted in that report.

“I don’t have any information as to where that report is coming from,” Mr. Bassey said.

A report by The Nation newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that Mr. Onnoghen was investigated by the SSS and that he had been given a ‘clean bill of health’.

“All hurdles against the nomination of Justice Walter Onnoghen as CJN have been resolved. He has been absolved of all allegations against him.

“As a matter of fact, the nomination was delayed as a result of the need to address these allegations. Now, Justice Onnoghen has been given a clean bill of health.

“Every allegation was investigated and proofs indicated that Onnoghen has no case to answer. The government went to this extent to ensure that the holder of the office of CJN is above board,” the report stated.

The SSS is known to conduct background investigations on public office holders including judges, ahead of their appointments, in line with its constitutional obligation to ensure the security of Nigeria.


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  • Concerned Nigeriana

    Muhamadu Buhari is the worst president Nigeria has ever had; the least educated, the most dishonest,
    the most crooked, the worst mentally lazy, the most bereft, the most denuded of thought-process, and,
    the most inarticulate stammering Islamist bigot ever to enter the presidential villa flying Fulani tribe flag.

    • By Popular Demand

      “In the President, in whom much hope was invested and misery was reaped, the man died.
      In the President, who made promises of alleviating poverty during campaign but rather
      exacerbates the level of hunger in the land, the man died. In the President who
      promised to declare his assets but goes to odious lengths to explain why he
      could not do it any longer, the man died. In the President who promised to
      reduce the cost of petrol but ended up increasing it astronomically,
      the man died. In the President who promised to increase the
      value of our Naira but rather devalued it beyond recognition,
      the man died”.

      ………………..Remi Oyeyemi

      (January 3rd, 2017)

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  • Darlington

    Onnoghen is passing through this psychological trauma just because he is a Southerner. GEJ appoved two Northerners as CJN. After 30 years of non Southerner CJN, yet Buhari’s heart is still hardened like stone? Buhari will NEVER end well. The ball is now in Osinbajo’s court. History will very harsh to Osinbajo if he allows this gross injustice to happen.

    • Saladin Cassandra

      @disqus_Ogpo3s4qzW:disqus,

      Yemi Osinbajo has three days to go into infamy or to retrieve his own name
      from Muhamadu Buhari’s tribal nonsense. The choice is his. He can stall
      and do nothing and thereby end the career of Walter Onoghen just so that
      he can look nice and loyal to his northern owners whom he expects will
      back him when his own time comes to be confirmed as President of
      Nigeria. But if he does that he”ll be forgetting karma; that what
      goes around comes around. He himself shall be rejected as a
      confirmed president of Nigeria, without a doubt, because
      the Oyegun-led national executive of APC party will not
      trust the judgment of such a slippery Vice President.

    • Rommel

      Yet as we speak,we have an acting president who is a southerner with wife from Niger delta and you still call him a stone hearted fellow and anto south? did GEJ allow Nemadi Sambo to act even for one second?

      • emmanuel

        Was GEJ ever sick to the point of going to treat ears abroad or going into intensive care unit where his wife could not see him?
        I thought you were a knowledgeable person, Osinbajos wife is Chief Awolowo’s grand daughter and cannot be from Niger Delta.
        Namadi Sambo was the most officious and colourful VP in Nigeria. Did you ever see him attend naming ceremonies as official function – the type Osibande has been detailed to do across Nigeria?
        Anyway, we know you to be a son of satan the father of all liars.
        No one believe you, just like Liar Mohammed

        • Powerlessconscious

          Gej was sick to the point that Nigeria treasury was LOOTED away.

  • Solomon Brown

    The delay in confirming Onnoghen isn’t more political than it is tribal. The Northern political bloc wants all the sensitive appointments zoned to them, all because of this insatiable appetite for power, PMB knows the right things to do, he just can’t get to doing them soon enough, or ends up not doing them at all.

    While the president is away, I believe Osibanjo does have the same authority as the president in forwarding this to the senate for at least a hearing, do not clog the political wheel by appointing only a segment of country, to cater to the needs of the whole country, it goes against the very principle of building an inclusive society. Democracy has to do with the number and will of all the people, and not just the numbers we assign to a few people.

    • Circa

      Osinbanjo is simply a house boy in Aso rock. Are you not aware that whenever Buhari wants to hold a serious meeting he always sends Osinbajo out of Abuja? Sometime he sends him to go buy Akara at Asokoro junction and before he comes back, the meeting would have ended. And his small frame is not helping matters despite his ever black mourning outfit.

      • emmanuel

        Na wa for you, how you dey do bros dis kin thin? But you are right………..On the contrary, he sends him to to danger prone or even travel out for Osibande to handle to handle threatning situations
        One of the photo i saw of Buhari in military uniform during his 1984 failed leadership, was of him and Idiagbon ridding on an open roof landrover in parade – the mark of a man who cannot act except by close supervision (sometime from junior operatives, like Mamman Daura, etc.

      • Solomon Brown

        You are kidding right?

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  • Point of Correction

    What makes retired Colonel Umar an “influential” statesman? He was just a Colonel like any other Colonel in the Nigerian Army during his time. He never fought any war or won any medal of bravery or anything of that sort. He was just a soldier like any other. The hegemony introduced into the Army via the royal Army affiliation that gave generous opportunities to officers of Northern extraction and placed them over officers from other parts of the country as propagated by the system from 1967 – 1990s was what led to the April 22, 1990 Gideon Orkar revolution. No doubt Umar is one of such favoured officer. It is therefore wrong for PT to refer to him as “influential”. This is not only irritating but provocative. What makes him influential? Would you have called Colonel Chijioke Okafor or Colonel Abang D. Bassey who were even his seniors influential?

    • Gary

      Abubakar Umar established himself as a hero by sacrificing his career in pursuit of fairness and democracy. He broke with his superiors over the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election victory of MKO Abiola.

      In the heat of the crisis, Col. Umar mobilized an armored unit under his command to head towards Abuja before he was stopped. Due to his privileged background and ties to IBB, Umar was discharged from the Army rather than face court-martial for insurrection against the military regime.

      So to many in the pro-democracy movement, Abubakar Umar is an influential and national hero. I will gladly return to Nigeria to join his campaign were he to run for office.

      The tragedy is that those who call the shots in the North prefer the ethnocentric bigots to push their sectarian interests at the center and cannot trust fair-minded secularists like Umar.