The Senate has confirmed Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The Senate voted to confirm Mr. Onnoghen, after the Cross River-born judge fielded questions from the lawmakers during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
“We are enlightened by some of the views presented today,” said Senate President Bukola Saraki, commending Mr. Onnoghen and thanking his colleagues who asked wide range of questions.
Mr. Saraki said the screening and the eventual confirmation was a milestone.
Mr. Onnoghen fielded questions on various subjects, relating to the independence of the judiciary, corruption in the judiciary, establishment of special courts for corruption trial and respect for court rulings, among others.
During the confirmation hearing, he asked to be excused from commenting on the delay in his nomination and trial of judges for corruption.
Mr. Onnoghen’s name was forwarded to the Senate on February 8 for confirmation as a substantive CJN by acting President Yemi Osinbajo, having been so recommended by the National Judicial Council.
He had been leading the country’s judiciary in acting capacity since November 10 when he was so appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, following the retirement of Mahmud Mohammed.
The delay in nominating him to the Senate for confirmation had generated controversy, with lawmakers from his home state accusing the President of sectionalism.
Mr. Onnoghen, 67, was born in Kruiku Town, Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State.
He bagged his Law degree from the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1977 before his BL certificate at the Nigerian Law School in 1978.
He started his career as a Pupil State Counsel in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, in 1979, after which he ventured into private practice.
In 1989, he returned to public service as judge in the High Court of his native Cross River State.
He joined the federal judicial service in 1998 as Justice of the Court Appeal, a position he held until 2005 when he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
He is the first CJN from Southern Nigeria in 30 years.
Having been confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Onnoghen is now due to be sworn-in by the President, or the Acting President, as the 20th Chief Justice of Nigeria.