UPDATED: NJC reacts to Buhari’s acceptance of Onnoghen’s retirement

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

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has expressed satisfaction with President Muhammadu Buhari’s acceptance of the voluntary retirement of ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday reported Mr Buhari’s acceptance of Mr Onnoghen’s retirement two months after the former chief justice wrote to the president.

Before his retirement, Mr Onnoghen was being tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged false assets declaration.

Mr Onnoghen wrote a retirement letter in April after he was asked to do so by the NJC which probed a complaint that he abused his office by not properly declaring his assets.

Before then, he had been controversially suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari on the order of the CCT.

The CCT gave the order ‘exparte’ meaning without the presence of Mr Onnoghen’s lawyer. Majority of Nigerians were not aware of the order until the presidency announced it.

The appeal court later condemned the “secret” order by the CCT but said it could not rule as the order had been overtaken by events.

Mr Onnoghen was later convicted by the CCT of false assets declaration. The CCT ordered that he be sacked from office and not allowed to hold public office for the next ten years. The CCT’s order came days after Mr Onnoghen wrote the retirement letter.

It is the retirement that Mr Buhari has now accepted.

In its reaction to the president’s decision to accept the voluntary retirement, the NJC said Mr Buhari’s action “was in the best interest of Nigeria.”

The NJC, in a statement by its spokesperson, Soji Oye, said it held an “emergency meeting today to take formal note of the acceptance of the voluntary retirement of Hon. Mr Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON, as Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.”

“The president’s acceptance of the retirement is in line with Council’s recommendation to the President on 3rd April, 2019.

“Council at the end of its deliberations, thanked the president for the acceptance which was in the best interest of Nigeria,” Mr Oye said.

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