Court rejects suit seeking to stop confirmation of Muhammad as CJN

Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad
Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, struck out a suit seeking an order to halt the confirmation of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad.

President Muhammadu Buhari this week asked the Senate to confirm Mr Muhammad’s as the substantive CJN, months after he was appointed.

Delivering judgement on Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the applicant, Malcolm Omirhobo, lacked the “locus standi”, which is the right to initiate legal action, in the matter.

He said the applicant filed the case under the name of his nongovernmental organisation, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

He said the purpose for which the case was filed was outside what the foundation was created for.

“The plaintiff exceeded the parameter of his foundation,” the judge said.

“It is the law that the suit must be struck out.

“I hereby make an order striking out this action.”

Backstory

Mr Omithobo had filed the suit against the National Judicial Council before the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order to stop the appointment of Mr Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice.

The applicant in the suit with number argued that Mr Muhammad made himself a tool that was used in the violation of the constitution, with regards to the controversial removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The suit had the NJC, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the president of Nigeria, Mr Muhammad, The Federal Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Senate as defendants.

The applicant had sought the court’s declaration that the Constitution never contemplated the suspension or removal of the CJN by an ‘exparte order’ of court.

The applicant added that “the president does not have the vires or power under the law to unilaterally suspend and/or remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria from office.”

Mr Omirhobo then sought an order restraining the Senate from confirming the appointment of Mr Muhammad as the substantive CJN.

After his controversial suspension, Mr Onnoghen was convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false assets declaration.

The tribunal ordered his sack from office. It also ruled that he should forfeit his undeclared assets.

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