Presidency nominates Onnoghen as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has nominated Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, ushering in the first southern head of the apex court in about 30 years.

The decision was announced in a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s handle shortly before noon Wednesday. It came a day after Mr. Osinbajo’s office told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Onnoghen’s name could still be forwarded before the February 10 deadline stipulated by the Constitution.

“Hon. Justice W.S. Onnoghen’s name has been sent to the Senate for confirmation as the next CJN,” the tweet said with an accompanying link to Mr. Onnoghen’s biography on the Supreme Court website.

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

The delay would have triggered an automatic constitutional provision that could block the president from proceeding with the nomination process by February 10.

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

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Wednesday’s announcement is expected to douse that criticism.

The jurist will now await a confirmation by the Senate to assume duty as substantive chief judge. Although the Senate is on recess till February 21, an emergency sitting could be called to ensure early resolution of the controversy.


Efforts to reach Senate President Bukola Saraki on the confirmation letter and process were unsuccessful as at the time of this report. His media aide, Yusuf Olaniyonu, did not  pick or return calls to his phone.

Mr. Onnoghen is the first CJN from Southern Nigeria since Ayo Irikefe retired from the position in 1987.

The Supreme Court website said Mr. Onnoghen was born on December 22, 1950 in Okurike Town, Biase Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State.
He attended the Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike Town between 1959 and 1965.
He later proceeded to Accra, Ghana to attend Odorgorno Secondary School, Adabraka, Accra, Ghana between 1967 and 1972 for his West African Examination Council (WAEC) Exams.

He was at Accra Academy, Accra Ghana between 1972 and 1974 for his WAEC (A-Levels) before proceeding to the University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana between 1974 and 1977 to obtain his Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B (Hons)) and graduated with 2nd Class Upper Division.

He attended the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos between 1977 and 1978 for his B.L certificate.

Her previous professional appointments/positions held include:

Pupil State Counsel, Ministry of Justice, Ikeja, Lagos, Ogun State (1978 – 1979)

Partner in the Law Firm of Effiom Ekong & Company, Calabar (1979 – 1988)

Principal Partner/Head of Chamber of Walter Onnoghen & Associates, Calabar (1988 -1989)

High Court Judge, Cross Rivers State Judiciary (1989 – 1998)

Chairman, Cross Rivers State Armed Robbery and Fire Arms Tribunal (1990 – 1993)

Chairman, Judicial Enquiry into the Crisis between Student of the University of Calabar and Obufa Esuk Orok Community, Calabar (1996)

Chairman, Failed Bank Tribunal, Ibadan Zone (1998)

Judge, High Court of Rivers State (1992 – 2004)

Justice of the Court of Appeal (1998 – 2005).


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  • john ahmed ishaku

    at last ethnicity and tribalism had being push aside by corrupt buhari

    • Al

      You don’t have anything to criticize again, so shut up

      • aboki

        Al they’ll not be contented or satisfied with the inbuilt HATRED on PMB person and the government of the day.

      • tony H

        Buhari had nothing to do with this. When he returns, Buhari will appoint 1000 Fulani/Hausa judges to make up for this one.

    • tony H

      They waited until Buhari was out of the country.

  • Galantman

    This have silenced the false alarmist.

    • ::????????


      The Buhari/Osinbajo contraption of a government is too childish for comment!

      Why wait until 24 hours to the deadline; given that the Senate doesn’t sit on Friday?

      • Truth Konveyor

        Must he be confirmed this week? The only thing of significance is that his name must be forwarded before Saturday. Your alarm the late hour submission of his name borders on ignorance.

      • Galantman

        My brother, the problem we have in this country is EVERYTHING is quickly turned into an incendiary topic to be fed to the gullible. Me and you are not privy to the reason that caused the delay in sending the gentleman name for confirmation in view of the massive crack down on the judiciary which has exposed of scandals even though some people said it is witch hunting.
        Nigerians are specialist in creating and spreading false news as long as it fits there vested interests no matter how narrow

        • Tunde Elewele


          I don’t think there is any good reason.
          Anyone good enough to occupy a post in acting capacity is presumed good
          enough to occupy it in a substantive capacity unless you consider Islamist
          bigotry as a good reason – which it is not. President Buhari knows the human
          anus as well as you do. No matter how well human anus is swiped with toilet roll
          there’ll always be a peck of excreta. That’s what President Buhari was looking
          for in Justice Onoghen’s anus, but the same speck is in Buhari’s own anus too.
          At any rate, the judicial standard of deciding disqualification is not about speck
          of excreta left over in a cleaned anus but incompetence and moral dissolution.

          • Galantman

            To be candid im not in a position to answer why his name was not sent initially, but we all know that the workings of Nigerian governments since independence is full of intricacies and horse trading , that is why it is not good to rush and give it religious or ethnic connotation without doing due diligence

    • Otile

      If imam was home he would appoint his Fulani relative in place of this qualified judge.

      • aboki

        Otile Otile please concentrate on your BIAFRA REPUBLIC agenda as the appointments does not concerned you

        • Otile

          Why must I not be concerned, are your fulani federal character dummies not drawing their pay from my Niger Delta oil money?

  • tony H

    Osinbade waited until the tribalist, tyrant was out of town to quickly appoint a non Fulani/Hausa.

    • Peter_Edo

      Must you find something negative to say?

      • Otile

        Must we continue to put up with Fulani tribalism?

        • Powerlessconscious

          Tell me what is good about your own tribe.

          • Otile

            Where have been? If you don’t know that then you must be living in a dingy rat hole.

    • Akiika

      In your opinion, Buhari didn’t give his consent, Osibajo did it unilaterally? Who do una like dis nah?

      • tony H

        Hell NO! That Fualni will neva eva eva! That brute from Daura? Neva x1000000000000000000

        • Akiika

          The announcement came from the president’s twitter handle. I think the tribalism in you always leave you parologizing.

          • tony H

            “parologizing”? huh? Before we start, abeg, is that a word?

          • Akiika

            Yep! Paralogizing.

          • tony H

            Em, do you have a simpler word?

        • Powerlessconscious

          It was clearly stated in the report that the president twitted it on his twitter. Go back andcread the report and stop spreading hatred.

          • tony H

            Go siddon, Buhari sabi wetin be twitter?

    • Baba Onibeji

      Your Mumu don do … Damned if he did .. damned if he didn’t

      • tony H

        That genocide Buhari will never have done what Small Man Osinbade has done.

    • A Aminu

      A Hausa/Fulani who Rommel ( a discussant above) said he is deeply appalled by the decision to appoint Onnoghen, as he is a deeply corrupt individual whose appointment should not have been upheld. Rommel is also Hausa/Fulani I suppose.
      The idea to bring ethnicity in all discussions does not allow even discussion, and will not bring out superior argument, as covering every point with ethnicity and or religion spoils even the best of ones arguments.

      • tony H

        Spare me the gospel, where was your sentiment when Buhari was only appointing his Katsina cabal ati nephews ati nieces ati friends ati neighbors ati in-laws into his administration?

        • A Aminu

          If only you can explain to me what you mean by ati nephews ati nieces ati friend ati neighbors then I can surely tell you where my sentiment was and is. I tried to find in English language where this phase comes from.

          • tony H

            What about a dictionary? Have you tried that yet?

  • Rommel

    I am deeply appalled by this decision,Onnoghen is a deeply corrupt individual whose appointment should not have been upheld,we’ll see what happens

    • Otile

      Credit to my friend Daniel
      O treachery! Why hath thou been so unkind to me?

      And Buhari weeps…

    • Yemi

      That’s why I’m deeply troubled by the possibility of Osibajo becoming President. You can forget the war against corruption right there.

    • Senator D

      Okay we are waiting ooooo. Suddenly everyone is growing teeth because Buhari is “Hale and hearty”… No wahala…

  • Junior Advocate of Nigeria

    Editor Premium Times,

    S.A.N as a badge of shame of career criminals

    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.

  • Wolexit 2017



  • kayode Olufade

    Nice one, hope he is able to deliver on the task set ahead of him. So much negative things have happened to the judiciary, that arm of government needs a rejuvenation

  • Akiika

    Haba Premium Times! Do you guys even proofread your reports?
    “”Her” previous professional appointments/positions held include;”

  • Otile

    Don’t bring ill-feeling to this good appointment. This judge will do Nigeria proud, watch and see.

  • Senator D

    Suddenly everyone is growing teeth because Buhari is “Hale and hearty”… No wahala……WE siddon dey look…