NJC writes Osinbajo, wants Onnoghen to continue as Acting Chief Justice pending Senate confirmation

Acting chief justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen
Acting chief justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen

Hours after the presidency confirmed that Walter Onnoghen’s name had been sent to the Senate for confirmation as Nigeria’s Chief Justice, the National Judicial Council, NJC, asked that he remains in acting capacity until his confirmation.

Mr. Onnoghen was due to vacate his role as acting chief justice on February 10 unless he was confirmed as substantive chief justice or his acting role was renewed based on a recommendation of the NJC.

The NJC after its meeting on Wednesday wrote to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo seeking continuation of Mr. Onnoghen’s role as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, multiple officials sources told PREMIUM TIMES.

The NJC recommendation will enable Mr. Onnoghen continue in acting position pending his confirmation as substantive Chief Justice by the Senate.

“The NJC wrote to the acting president today in order to beat the deadline of the expiration of the previous letter and for him to continue acting as the CJN while awaiting confirmation by the Senate,” a top judiciary official told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Osinbajo dispatched a notice of Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination to the Senate.

“Hon. Justice W.S. Onnoghen’s name has been sent to the Senate for confirmation as the next CJN,” the presidency said in a tweet shortly before noon Wednesday.

The announcement came four months after Mr. Onnoghen was first recommended to Mr. Buhari as the next head of the country’s judiciary.

The president had until February 10 to recommend Mr. Onnoghen as substantive chief justice or the latter loses the position based on a constitutional provision.

The president’s delay in nominating Mr. Onnoghen as substantive chief judge despite the NJC recommendation fuelled allegations of ethnic bias and criticisms against Mr. Buhari.

NO PLAN TO CUT SHORT RECESS —SENATORS

Although, like many Nigerians, the Senate keenly anticipated Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination for weeks, it will not reconvene to quickly deliberate on his fate, sources said.

The Senate embarked on a three-week recess on January 26 to give members extra time to work on the 2017 budget which is still under consideration in both chambers of the parliament.

But multiple senators in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES acknowledged that the Senate received the president’s letter on Mr. Onnoghen, but his confirmation hearing could wait until lawmakers returned from recess on February 21.

“Today is Wednesday and no message has gone out to senators that they must reconvene by tomorrow,” the source said. “Clearly, that tells you that we won’t be doing anything about it this week.”

“The letter we received will not be read on the floor of the Senate until February 21.”

Another senator said there was no need to expedite the process, especially as the NJC had written to the presidency seeking an extension of Mr. Onnoghen’s role as acting chief justice.

“I learnt that the NJC already wrote to the president that the judge should continue acting until we confirm him,” the source said. “Frankly, I don’t see the need for any rush.”

The Senate had also refused to cut short its recess despite receiving a letter from President Buhari to extend his medical vacation in the UK.

Senate spokesperson Aliyu Sabi said the lawmakers would only discuss the president’s letter after their resumption on February 21.

Poised for confirmation 

A member of Senate judiciary committee told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Onnoghen “will most likely be confirmed” because “we know him as an incorruptible and upright judge.”

“He is qualified to head the Supreme Court and we will give him all the support he needs to scale through,” the source said.

Mr. Onnoghen’s nomination is likely to be forwarded to the Senate Judiciary Committee for initial actions, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.


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  • EOkeh

    thank God

    • ?????????

      @eokeh:disqus

      IS IT TRUE THAT PRESIDENT BUHARI IS PACKING THE SUPREME COURT FULL WITH
      NORTHERNERS? IS IT TRUE THAT NORTHERN MUSLIMS ARE THE BIGGEST SINGLE BLOCK IN
      THE SUPREME COURT TODAY? IS IT TRUE THAT ALL TWO SOUTHERN SUPREME COURT JUDGES
      INDICTED FOR CORRUPTION WERE REPLACED WITH TWO NORTHERN MUSLIMS?

      • Bilisi2000

        @eokeh:disqus

        Muhamadu Buhari must not die!!

        If the man should die now how will we remember him since he didn’t achieve anything in office?
        What sort of thing is this for God sake? Are we going to say here lies the worst president Nigeria
        has ever had? Or are we going to say here lies the remnants of a man who promised change
        but made his country worse than he met it? This thing is too painful for me to bear.
        I just wish it could be different.

        Look at all the people that have already died because of this man called Muhamadu Buhari.
        See Femi Falana stammering all over the place – no confidence again. See also the other
        one called Wole Soyinka doing Wolexit out of his own country at age 84. What sort of thing
        is this for God sake? Can Buhari not struggle hard not to die and achieve at least one
        good thing? Economic recession is not an achievement now – it is a disgrace!

        Even if he dies now the people that will carry him to the grave will be the very corrupt people
        in society. So, will that mean corruption killed him too, since he could not kill corruption?

        • emmanuel

          “Even if he dies now the people that will carry him to the grave will be the very corrupt people in society. So, will that mean corruption killed him too, since he could not kill corruption?”
          For this, i nominate you to the supreme Court to dilute the numbers of the foolani herdsmen in the supreme Court!

          • V.O Akins

            Emmanuel:

            Wait O. You mean Fulani herdsmen are the majority Judges in the Nigerian Supreme Court?

            I didn’t know that. Ah, that means Nigeria is in trouble under Muhamadu Buhari, real trouble!

      • EOkeh

        That information is from your own News department’O!!

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  • straight-to-the-point

    EDITOR SIR,

    Justice Walter Onoghen: Let truth be told

    Let truth be told.
    Muhamadu Buhari is the worst mistake Nigerians ever made at the polls. At no
    time did Buhari intend to confirm Justice Onoghen as the Chief Justice if not for
    the articulate voices in Nigeria who screamed havoc. Buhari intended Justice
    Onoghen’s acting capacity to lapse, under the pretext he was abroad and could
    not send his name for confirmation until the deadline passed. Buhari then hid
    under the cover of interminable investigation of Justice Onoghen since October
    last year to let Onoghen Onoghen fall into statute bar.

    Whereas till today, Buhari’s primary school
    education is the only completed certificate he’s been able to show after
    20 months in office. He lied and lied and caused others to lie on his behalf
    that it was the innocent Nigerian Army that hid away his Wasc/Gce certificate
    from his files. Now that he himself is the commander in chief of the same army,
    where is the 1961 Wac/Gce certificate? He’s crookedly stopped talking about it
    having swindled millions of voters to wave brooms to usher in a near-illiterate
    as the elected president of Nigeria. What a country!

  • Ademola J.

    Please allow me space to condemn illiterates asking Nigerians to pray for Muhamadu Buhari.
    It was Muhamadu Buhari who pushed Nigeria into the worst economic recession in history.
    Sensible Nigerians should not pray for such a man. At any rate since his media aides say
    he is hale and hearty and hearty Nigerians should not waste their rime praying for Buhari.
    Muhamadu Buhari made Nigeria worse than he met it with his ignorance on the job and so,
    Nigerians should join the massive nationwide protest on the street going on today to save
    Nigeria from the illiteracy of Muhamadu Buhari and his useless APC party. Aluta continua!

    • ::????????

      IS IT TRUE THAT PRESIDENT BUHARI IS PACKING THE SUPREME COURT FULL WITH
      NORTHERNERS? IS IT TRUE THAT NORTHERN MUSLIMS ARE THE BIGGEST SINGLE BLOCK IN
      THE SUPREME COURT TODAY? IS IT TRUE THAT ALL TWO SOUTHERN SUPREME COURT JUDGES
      INDICTED FOR CORRUPTION WERE REPLACED WITH TWO NORTHERN MUSLIMS?

    • Gbolly Millenium

      @disqus_er1U7gExLS:disqus ,

      Thank you O! Muhamadu Buhari is even too incompetent to need anybody’s prayer for continuity, yes!
      Nigerians don’t want continuity of Muhamadu Buhari’s nonsense, they want a stop to it, because people
      are suffering a lot under this Buharu. Just look at. No electricity in this new year, mass retrenchment,
      no job, no safety, highest inflation, devalued Naira, no water, high cost of living.

      What next should we wait for,
      before we send Buhari packing as a useless man, what else? Buhari and his APC even put
      northern Muslims in charge of the EXECUTIVE, the two chambers of National Assembly and the
      Supreme Court at the same time. Haba! Are we an Islamic state? What sort of insult is this one?
      Buhari came to office to pursue NORTHERN ISLAMIC AGENDA. He is an evil man. Buhari must go!

  • Harry

    Why pray for a man who is hale and hearty? I rather pray for sick ones instead.

    • Senator D

      They that are whole have no need for a doctor…

  • Wolexit 2017

    @disqus_er1U7gExLS:disqus: Those who
    enabled Muhamadu Buhari to power – including Sanusi Lamido, Bola Tinubu
    and General Olusegun Obasanjo
    – have lost a right to be heard in Nigeria
    for their own almost senseless judgment, because anyone who determines that a
    primary six certificate holder is best for Nigeria can never come out again in
    public and expect to be trusted as sensible.

    • Somebody

      Hahahahaha! Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is even going round some media houses (by proxy) to tell them
      to start calling him “a critic of Buhari” after he himself wrote in the newspapers few years ago to pledge his
      own life in public to Muhamadu Buhari as the only possible saviour of Nigeria! Hahahahaha!

      Instead of Sanusi Lamido apologizing to the general public for lacking in ordinary ability to think properly,
      Sanusi Lamido wants to be given a convenient label he’s never earned, just because it is now a shame
      and a disgrace to be associated with Muhamadu Buhari’s illiteracy and zero performance in office.

      Sanusi Lamido must not be allowed to eat his cake and have it. He must be condemned for learning nothing
      in school himself, that no one with Primary Six certificate can give what he doesn’t have.

  • Junior Advocate of Nigeria

    @disqus_er1U7gExLS:disqus

    I am more concerned about the rate at which so-called Senior Advocates
    of Nigeria are being arrested for stealing and racketeering. I fear that by the
    end of the year all so-called Senior Advocates of Nigeria may be in jail. Quite
    a few have run away through bush path and fled the borders of Nigeria. A good
    few so-called Senior Advocates of Nigeria are now fugitives from justice,
    including Adoke Muhamed who may soon be arrested in his hiding place in a dark
    and dingy place in Europe. I am aware that another one, called Dele Belgore
    [S.A.N] has just been arrested today over 450 million Naira money-laundering.

    Two days ago, another one called Mike Ozekhome was in soup. A court of
    law froze his account for money- laundering. By and by the S.A.N title will
    unravel as a criminal title of dyed-in-the-wool financial criminals. Anyone
    seriously thinking ahead must join in shouting at the Nigerian Bar Association
    to ban holders of the chieftaincy title called S.A.N from attempting to train
    any new lawyer graduating from the law school. Our hands are full of enough of
    criminals bearing S.A.N title to have to cope with young lawyers inducted into
    stealing as a career by thieves bearing S.A.N. In fact, no fewer than ten (10)
    other so called Senior Advocates of Nigeria (S.A.N) have been docked in court to
    face high crimes charges of forgery and stealing. But that’s all the meaning of S.A.N.