Nigeria’s Acting Chief Justice Onnoghen speaks on Buhari’s inaction

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen

The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has appealed to Nigerians not to pressure President Muhammadu Buhari into appointing him the substantive Chief Justice.

Mr. Onnoghen made the appeal in a statement by his media aide, Awassam Bassey.

Mr. Buhari has come under criticism for not submitting Mr. Onnoghen’s name to Senate for confirmation as Substantive Chief Justice, almost three months since he was appointed in acting capacity.

The National Judicial Council had earlier recommended Mr. Onnoghen to President Buhari to be the substantive chief justice of Nigeria.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr. Onnoghen’s role as Acting Chief Justice will lapse on February 10 after which Mr. Buhari might be unable to submit his name to the Senate again based on a constitutional provision.

Buhari making call
President Muhammadu Buhari

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.

On Thursday, 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 the  NJC in making  the appointment,” Mr. Umar, a retired colonel, said.

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

However, on Thursday, Mr. Onnoghen appealed  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,” his spokesperson said.

“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.”


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  • Black or White

    Oversabi troublemakers crying more than the bereaved.

    • Felix Omoragbon

      It is the whole nigeria that is bereaved in case u dont knw

  • Iskacountryman

    how much did buhari bribe this man when he made that ruling against obasanjo?…

    • What story are you referring to, and you fully sober?

      • Iskacountryman

        your ignorance befits you…

  • Bimbo.

    This is called “stooping to conquer”.

  • Rommel

    The system of appointing chief justices of the federation from the most senior must be discontinued,it has never served Nigeria well and has very nasty implications,criminals and organized crime syndicates could plant a sleeper judge who would pass through the mills while patiently waiting for such a time when he/she would become the most senior and then the chief justice of Nigeria,such practice is not healthy as it breeds inefficiency and mental laziness.I am happy that PMB wishes to discontinue it.

    Competence must be the watchword,like I have said elsewhere,I would like to know the political views of this judge and to also know his landmark contributions if any to Nigerian jurisprudence,that is what I want to hear and not where he comes from.

    We claim we want changes in Nigeria,yet people are insisting on old ways of doing things,the oldest judge on the US supreme court Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83yrs and has been in office since 1993 whereas the chief justice of the United states John Roberts is 62 and appointed in 2005.

    • sab

      Rommel, when Nigerians wanted change, didn’t they do that constitutionally? Nobody is against changes but it has to be done according to the letters of our constitution. First, let PMB write the National Assembly for an amendment in that section of the constitution that deals with succession order or appointments into the leadership of NJC. Secondly, let PMB come out and tell Nigerians that because he wants a break from the old order that was reason he does not want to forward Justice Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation. Or better still, PMB should inform Nigerians what ‘sin’ the acting CJN committed that disqualifies him from being confirmed. The point is that, no matter how you view things, no matter how you pretend, this loud silence by Mr President on this issue does not speak positively of him and his administration. Come to think of it, if a President from other parts of the country handles such matter this way, will you, Rommel, in particular, welcome it? You brought the issue of American judicial succession and system into this argument but but refused to admit the fact that theirs is completely different from ours especially in the area of appointment and succession. Remember, the point at issue here is not that of age. It is about our own constitution, NIGERIA’S CONSTITUTION!

      • Dualpolemedia

        It is only the corrupt who wanted change with d back of their mouth, Any genuine change seekers should be able to read how the real change can be achieved. Onnoghen was in d system, he knew how d game played and play along. If we truly want ds change, the constitutional duty of the President cannot in anyway be override for any selfish gain.

      • Ephraim

        @Sab, the current procedure been followed to appoint CJNs is not a constitutional provision. It is rather a tradition or what you can call a protocol adopted by NJC. So PMB cannot start requesting for any constitutional amendment from National Assembly.

      • Rommel

        Which part of the constitution says that chief justice of Nigeria must come from next in line in the court?

      • new republic

        That 1999 constitution is Nigeria number one enemy.

      • Olanrewaju Kolah Suraj

        U seems not to understand d point. If I may ask, who is d most senior according to his explanation? One has been in practice @SCOTUS since 1993 n d other since 2005, pls tell us again hw dis is Abt Age.

    • amah sossy

      Well informed and unbiased comments devoid of ethno-religious sentiment that is the order of the day in Nigeria. Please keep it up. I admire you so much and look up reading your comments everyday.

      • Rommel

        Thanks a lot,it helps in this era of alternative facts and post truth to know that there are people who appreciate rational thoughts

  • Lawrence Azubuike

    Where are those people that are crying more than the bereaved. This serves you guys right

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    The fact is that what positive impact could the acting chief justice Onnoghen, claim to have had as acting chief justice in the last three months? Does president Muhammadu Buhari, automatically have to request for justice Onnoghen, without any basis. OKay! in the last three months as acting chief justice of Nigeria, has chief justice Onnoghen, restructured the Nigeria Judicial Commission,NJC which he chairs? What of the corruption-stained judges and justices on the bench? Has there been any action against corruption-stained judges and justices by justice Onnoghen, ever since commencement of his acting?

    • Sword of Damocles

      these are questions one would hope a thinking public would be asking. We know the antecedents of MAJORITY of Supreme Court justices as BRIBE TAKERS, enabled by people such as B-E-L-G-O-R-E. So why are we putting “our hands to cover our eyes”?? that will not change the fact that CHARACTER is LACKING in a lot of Nigerian leaders. This is just a FACT we as Nigerians & blacks have to deal with. These people apparently were not taught by their parents that character is the MOST IMPORTANT part of being a man/woman (if it were taught, why do they do the things they do????). Now the President is obligated to find an H-O-N-E-S-T learned jurist to appoint as CJN, preferably a southerner, given the tribal colorization of our fatherland. I personally do not have much hope in Nigeria getting it right, due to the kind of people who purport to fulfill the term LEADERSHIP (IMO) when it relates to Nigeria. I have never come across a Public Figure in Nigeria who is the embodiment of this term leadership(and I am 48 yrs old). Let’s see what happens

    • Michael

      Well said.

    • Samuel Adekanye

      This is a case of the more you look from outside the less you know or understand. PMB and the Senate are no fools. It is always very very easy to criticize from outside. Please give PMB a breathing and only offer constructive criticism.

  • Olusola Solarin

    I don’t trust any of the incumbent Justices of the Supreme Court. They are all tainted. This is an opportunity for a clean sweep. An outsider with proven integrity, Erudite and maybe independently wealthy and preferably from the South South should be brought in to sanitize the Judiciary. There are many good candidates. Senator Udo Udoma, Olisa Agbakoba, Etomi and a few others.

    • Michael

      Please leave out Agbakoba. He was extremely partisan against the raid of the judges and showed himself to be pro corruption. Agbakoba may be lots of things but a reformer he is NOT!


    Sovereignty belongs to the citizens, there is nothing exalted about a non performing public servant including the President. We reserve all rights to monitor the President’s performance and when he fails to advise him to resign.
    If he does not like our comments, his resignation is in order.
    The President is accountable to the public 24/7.

    • I dey hear O


      “Up till today,
      Muhamadu BUHARI has not been able to convince Nigerians that he was able to pass
      school certificate. He has chosen to take the country on a judicial merry go round;
      putting the case on and off until his term expires, but the schools he attended are there,
      and if they could not attest that he passed his school certificate, I don’t know how he can
      confirm he passed it in a court of law. Frankly speaking, any leader who could be so mediocre
      as to fail his school certificate ought not to have been trusted by the people of Nigeria with such
      an awesome responsibility as that of the office of the President.”

      …………Dr. Junaid Muhamed

      (Kano state ex Legislator)

      January 29th, 2017

      • Al

        Let me see your face, probably you are satan

        • I dey hear O


          Is it his face that will make Buharu pass the school cert he has not passed at age 74?

          • Al

            Buhari don pass your imagination, wether his qualified or not that one it is your history. Buhari 2023

  • The Rt. or Lft. Hon NinjaK

    Stoopid Southerner!!!

    • Owoeye Gbenga

      Bastard Northerner.

  • Al

    Nice one from Justice Onnoghen, I like your response to these noise makers. Any of you over there who doesn’t see anything good abt buhari just drink battery acid SHIKEnan

  • JOHN

    The constitution is very clear on this issue. The NJC recommends the most senior of the serving Supreme Court judges to the President and the President submit same to the Senate for confirmation as the Chief Judge of Nigeria. In the interim, he acts in that capacity within a specified period waiting for the completion of the process. The President cannot bridge the process without timely intimating NJC and the Senate. People should contribute to this discussion based on the constitutional provisions.

    • Karl Imom

      Not really. The constitution does NOT oblige the president to rubber-stamp any nomination from the NJC. Contrarily, constitution encourages the president to look at the quality and professional integrity of the nominee. The question now is: does this nominee have the professional integrity to be Chief Justice of Nigeria? One must first have access to the report of the background investigation submitted to the presidency by SSS with respect to this nominee before initiating a protest of any kind.

  • Bo Biz

    If the supreme court justices are all corrupt as alleged by Prof Sagay,and others with good knowledge of the supreme court affairs,then we Nigerians should encourage Mr. Buhari to tactically use the next 28 months of his tenure in office to weed out at least 9 more supreme court justices in their order of seniority. Buhari should keep appointing subsequent CJN nominees ONLY on ACTING basis strictly for the mandatory 3 months then compulsory retirement until all the current ones are shown the door,while at the same time appointing only erudite and untainted justices from the 6 geopolitical regions on equal basis.The system of having most of the supreme court justices from the 3 northern regions that led to the north producing all the CJNs in the last 30 years is an aberration since they don’t have more lawyers than the 3 southern regions.

  • Justice and Fairness

    To me, this is a tactical error on the part of the acting CJN. He is the subject and as such, the most decent thing from his end should have been SILENCE. Let others comment on this. He neither appointed nor nominated himself. His statement is patronizing and a subtle sychophancy.

    • serubawon70

      I completely disagree. Those issuing ultimatums have their own motivation which the Judge has refused to identify with. His statement is not by any means sycophantic but shows that he is confident of his capability and suitability for the appointment without recourse to threat or ultimatums.

    • Mufu Ola

      That’s maturity & sense of responsibility.He doesn’t need busybodies to “fight” for him.By d way what would Afenifere do with their ultimatum if President refuses to confirm? Declare war? I think Afenifere since the exit of Sen.Abraham Adesanya have become jesters arrogating imaginary influences to themselves. Many press statement by their PRO are always childish &lack deep intellectual input.Often knee jacked.All d same I strongly believe the acting CJN will be confirmed. He doesn’t need the crude intervention of Afenifere & co.

  • westman

    Ok ok.
    Unbelievable! When people complain they have registered in ultimate cycler for wks without getting paid I wonder. In our group of ultimate cyclers which is the best in Nigeria, people register today with 12,500 and get paid 50k in 5days. A lady who registered 4days ago got paid 50k yesterday &she is now in level 2 for #100k. If u want to make quick good cash with us join now. Whatsapp +2348063667191

  • Senator D

    Dear CJN kindly please NOTE: There’s NO General without an Army… Please don’t meddle in this issue. Buhari is NOT bigger than Nigeria. He will either bend or break!

  • westman

    What is stopping his confirmation?
    Unbelievable! When people complain they have registered in ultimate cycler for wks without getting paid I wonder. In our group of ultimate cyclers which is the best in Nigeria, people register today with 12,500 and get paid 50k in 5days. A lady who registered 4days ago got paid 50k yesterday &she is now in level 2 for #100k. If u want to make quick good cash with us join now. Whatsapp +2348063667191

  • blueeyedkitten

    this man is a class. he doesnt want to be involved in this hysterical ethnic warfare marshalled by the media.
    he is simply saying – you go do your disgusting ethnic war. i’m not interested! hehehehe!!