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Court Asked To Declare Tanko Mohammad Unfit, Order New Selection |RN

Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammad

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has okayed a fresh suit seeking to bar President Muhammadu Buhari from appointing the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to take over the leadership of the judiciary in a substantive capacity.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2019, is praying the court to declare that Justice Muhammad who is currently the most senior jurist at the Supreme Court, is unfit to replace the sacked CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Specifically, the plaintiff, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, who is a human rights lawyer, is praying the court to declare that the Acting CJN, Justice Muhammad, having made himself available as a tool that was used in the violation of the Constitution, especially with regards to the “illegal” removal of the former CJN, is therefore not a proper and fit person to be recommended for appointment to head the judiciary.

It is the contention of the plaintiff that the Acting CJN conducted himself in a manner that reduced the confidence of the public in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary. Cited as 1st to 7th Defendants in the suit were the National Judicial Council, NJC, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC, the Acting CJN, the Federal Government of Nigeria, President Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the National Assembly.

The plaintiff, among other things, urged the court to declare that the suspension and/or removal of a CJN from office, is a shared responsibility of the 1st Defendant (NJC), the 5th defendant (Buhari) and 7th Defendant (National Assembly). He argued that President Buhari lacked the constitutional powers to unilaterally suspend and/or the removal a sitting CJN from office, as was done in the case of Onnoghen.

Besides, he prayed the court to declare that by combined interpretation sections 1(1 )(2), 231(4), 292(1)(a)(i)(b), 153(1)(i), 158(1) and paragraph 21 (a)(b) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, “it is unlawful and undemocratic for the 4th and 5th Defendants (Federal Government and President Buhari), to declare the office of the CJN vacant on January 25, 2019 and consequently appoint and swear in the 3rd Defendant as the acting CJN”.

He, therefore, applied for a court order to restrain the National Assembly from confirming any appointment of Justice Muhammad as the substantive CJN.

Likewise, for, “An order, compelling the 2nd Defendant (FJSC), to select and the 1st Defendant (NJC), to recommend the most qualified Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria that is fit and proper, to the 5th Defendant, for appointment to office of the CJN, and for the confirmation of the 7th Defendant with a two-thirds majority vote”.

Aside praying the court to bar President Buhari from appointing Justice Muhammad as the substantive CJN, the Plaintiff, in a 65-paragraph affidavit he filed in support of the suit, stressed that unless restrained by the court, the Executive Arm of Government would continue to violate the extant provisions of the Constitution and sanctity of the judiciary.

Meantime, the suit which has already been assigned to Justice Iyang Ekwo for hearing is coming barely 72 hours after the NJC disclosed that it had approved the extension of Justice Muhammad’s tenure as the Acting CJN.

The Council had in a statement over the weekend, said it had at the end of the meeting is held on April 18, considered and approved President Buhari’s request for the extension of the appointment the Acting CJN for another three months.

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Embattled CJN, Onnoghen Appeals Conviction by CCT |The Republican News

Walter-Buhari
 
by Evelyn Okakwu
 
 
 
The embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has appealed the judgement delivered by the Code of Conduct Tribunal in his case of alleged false asset declaration.
 
Mr Onnoghen was convicted by the CCT, led by Danladi Umar on Thursday.
 
The tribunal which ruled that it had jurisdiction in the matter, also dismissed another application by the defence which suggested that Mr Umar should remove himself for alleged bias.
 
According to Mr Umar, the tribunal is a body empowered by section 158 (1) of the constitution to perform its duty “without external interference of bodies like the NJC.”
 
The section it relied on provides for the independence of the CCT and states that it “shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person.”
 
 
Mr Umar ruled that the relationship between the tribunal and the presidency “was purely administrative” in nature and insufficient for the defence to accuse him of bias.
 
According to the CCT chairman, “all judges of superior courts are appointed by the president, Muhammadu Buhari, on the recommendation of the NJC.”
 
The CCT chairman added that the appointment of the said judges is not be regarded “as a reason for them to act according to the whims of the president”.
 
 
“It is to be noted that without the chairman, there is no CCT,” Mr Umar added
 
The tribunal had also dismissed the request against its jurisdiction after submitting that Mr Onnoghen was being tried “as a public officer and not as a judicial officer.”
 
 
 
Mr Umar also said that the “CCT had powers to overrule him where it finds that it has taken a decision that was wrongly reached.”
 
Subsequently, the tribunal overruled its earlier decision which freed another Supreme Court Justice, Sylvester Ngwuta, of a similar allegation.
 
Precedent
 
Mr Ngwuta was one of seven judges whose houses had been raided by the State Security Service in October 2016, after President Muhammadu Buhari’s government accused them of fraud.
 
He was arraigned on false asset charges at the tribunal by the CCT. But the tribunal, also chaired by Mr Umar suspended the case following a decision of a Court of Appeal in a related matter.
 
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal had decided during the trial of another judge, Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, that the only body responsible for the indictment of a serving judicial officer was the NJC.
 
That decision had forced the suspension of the trial of Mr Ngwuta at the tribunal.
 
However, on Thursday, Mr Umar regarded the decision on Mr Ngwuta as a wrong judgement and “overruled himself.”
 
After dismissing the various applications, Mr Umar ruled in his judgement that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Onnoghen was involved in the alleged breach of the CCT act and found him guilty of same.
 
‘Three major punishments’
 
Mr Umar invoked section 23 of the act which allowed the tribunal to issue three major punishments to persons found guilty of such allegations.
 
The provision demands that a convicted person shall be made to vacate his office for a period, not exceeding 10 years. It also allows the tribunal to order that the convict shall forfeit assets found to have been acquired fraudulently.
 
 
Not satisfied
 
But in an appeal to the appellate court, Mr Onnoghen has insisted that the tribunal erred in law when it ruled that it had jurisdiction in the matter.
 
According to Mr Onnoghen, he was arraigned at the time when he was still a serving judicial officer, therefore the tribunal lacked powers to entertain the allegations against him.
 
Although Mr Umar overruled the judgement in Mr Ngwuta’s case, Mr Onnoghen cited the January 2018 decision of the CCT which freed Mr Ngwuta as the reason for the tribunal to have ruled against its jurisdiction.
 
Mr Onnoghen also submitted in his request that the tribunal erred in law when it dismissed the application challenging its jurisdiction.
 
“Once an allegation of real likelihood of the bias is raised, the Court or tribunal will have nothing more to say except to wash its hands from further proceedings in the matter,” Mr Onnoghen said in his appeal.
 
The embattled CJN also argued that the failure of Mr Umar to recuse himself vindicated the defence in their submission that Mr Umar was a “person of interest.”
 
Mr Onnoghen said it was against the principle of natural justice for Mr Umar to sit in judgement of his own case.
 
He also argued that there was no way the tribunal could have been fair since the prosecution and the tribunal are both bodies working under the instructions of the executive arm of government.
 
Mr Onnoghen also submitted that the tribunal erred in law when it ruled that he confessed to having committed the allegations against him.
 
According to Mr Onnoghen, his statement was only meant to clarify the issues raised in the allegations. Mr Onnoghen said he never admitted to not declaring his assets in 2005, as suggested by the charge.
 
“The Appellant did not admit the fact of non-declaration of Assets from the year 2005 as the Justice of the Supreme Court.
 
“The Appellant only stated that he did not declare in 2009 as required because he forgot and did the declaration immediately it realised same.
 
“By the evidence of DWI (Defence Witness:1) and exhibit DW2 tendered, it has affirmed the statement of the appellant that he forgot to make a declaration in 2009 but did in 2010 when he remembered showing there was a declaration after all contrary to count one of the charges,” Mr Onnoghen said.
 
Mr Onnoghen also argued that the tribunal erred in law when it ruled that the evidence of the first defendant’s witness did not cast doubts on the submissions of the prosecution in the first count.
 
According to Mr Onnoghen in his appeal, the first defendant’s witness was able to refute the claims of non-declaration of an asset from 2005. “The doubt created by DWI’s evidence no matter how minute ought to be resolved in favour of the Appellant.”
 
Mr Onnoghen also submitted that his statement suggesting that he failed to include the five accounts in the declaration forms for 2014 because he believed they were not functioning, “does not amount to an admission of guilt.”
 
Mr Onnoghen explained that the forms for 2014 and that of 2016 were both filed the same day. He added that the declaration form for 2016 had all the accounts in it. According to him, the prosecution should not have accused him of false declaration since both forms were filed by him.
 
Mr Onnoghen said the submissions by the prosecution that he made a false declaration, based on the omission of certain details is not backed by the CCT Act. He also argued that the standard procedure for the verification of his forms was not complied with by the prosecution.
 
‘Confiscation of assets illegal’
 
Mr Onnoghen also challenged the order for the confiscation of his assets on the grounds that the assets were legitimately acquired, as against the provisions of paragraph three of section 23 of the CCB act which only permits the seizure of such assets “if they were acquired by fraud.”
 
Mr Onnoghen questioned the failure of the prosecution to present the petitioner, Denis Aghanya, before the tribunal.
 
Mr Aghanya’s petition had birthed the charges against Mr Onnoghen.
 
According to Mr Onnoghen, all the allegations brought against him “constitute no offence and should therefore not have formed the basis for his conviction.”
 
“Section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution Provides: –
 
“Subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefor is prescribed in a written law.
 
“The allegations contained in all the six counts of the charge constitute no offence known to the law, as the offence as charged is neither defined in any law nor is any punishment prescribed therefor.”
 
Mr Onnoghen made seven requests before the tribunal. They include:
 
– An order that the lower tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the case.
 
– An order that the lower tribunal ought to have recused itself from the proceedings before it.
 
– An order that the charge has become academic.
 
– An order setting aside the conviction of the Appellant.
 
– An order setting aside the order for forfeiture of assets made by the Honourable Tribunal.
 
– An order discharging and acquitting the Appellant.  
(Premium Times)
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NJC Advises Buhari To Confirm Tanko Muhammad As Substantive CJN

Buhari, Onnoghen, Tanko

by Ojike Ebere

***President weighs options on Onnoghen

WITH the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), the coast seems clear for Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to mount the saddle as CJN.

President Muhammadu Buhari is likely to accept the NJC’s recommendation that Justice Muhammad should be CJN, The Nation learnt yesterday.

But Buhari is said to be weighing whether or not to accept the NJC’s recommendations on the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria ( CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Buhari, who had a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the issue before flying out to Jordan yesterday, is also said to be seeking legal opinions on the NJC’s decisions.

The NJC absolved Justice Muhammad of any blame in deferring to the President to be sworn in as the Acting CJN.

He accepted the appointment, having been presented with an ex parte order of the CCT, which led to Justice Onnoghen’s suspension.

The Nation learnt that after receiving the NJC’s recommendations, the President elected to seek legal advice on them.

A top government official, who pleaded not to be named because he was not permitted to talk on the matter, said the President was considering:

  1. whether or not NJC’s conclusions on findings on Onnoghen did not amount to indictment;
  2. if he should accept NJC’s soft-landing decision to retire Justice Onnoghen with full benefits;

  3. Onnoghen’s retirement without benefits; and

  4. whether the law should run its full course, including the conclusion of Onnoghen’s trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal and a fresh trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Buhari is also believed to be thinking of asking NJC to recommend deterrence for Onnoghen or seeking further consultations with the council.

The President is also said to be planning to seek advice on whether the input of the Senate necessary in retiring Onnoghen?

The source said: “Since he received the NJC’s recommendations, the President has been thinking of how to manage the situation without rubbishing the anti-corruption agenda of his administration. He has the right to accept or reject the council’s recommendations on Onnoghen.

“The President is already seeking legal opinion on legal issues surrounding the NJC’s decisions. He does not want to set a bad precedent in tackling this Onnoghengate”.

The source confirmed that the President met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. He believed Onnoghen’s case and other matters were discussed.

Responding to a question, the source said: “What NJC decided was a kind of soft-landing for Onnoghen with moral and legal implications.

“Apart from stepping down, there are concerns about what Onnoghen is really offering as deterrent. Some are saying why can’t the law run its full course?

“Others are pressurising the government to take advantage of the window created by the NJC to rebuild the ties between the Executive and the Judiciary as a result of Onnoghen’s travails.”

It was unclear whether or not the President would need the consent of the Senate to retire Onnoghen.

“This is part of the legal opinion being sought by the President,” a presidency source said, pleading not to be named.

Section 231 of the 1999 Constitution says: “(1)The appointment of a person to the office of Chef Justice of Nigeria shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of such appointment by the Senate.

“(2) The appointment of a person to the office of a Justice of the Supreme Court shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of such appointment by the Senate.

“(3) A person shall not be qualified to hold the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria or of a Justice of the Supreme Court, unless he is qualified to practise as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for a period of not less than fifteen years.

“(4) If the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office,’ then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the President shall point the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.

“(5) Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, appointment, pursuant to the provisions of subsection (4) of section shall cease to have effect after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment, and the President shall not reappoint a person whose appointment has lapsed.”

Part 1 of the Third Schedule to 1999 Constitution says: “The National Judicial Council shall have power to:

(b) recommend to the President the removal from office of the judicial officers specified in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such office’s;

(c) recommend to the Governors from among the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commissions persons for appointments to the offices of the Chief Judges of the States and Judges of the High courts of the states, the Grand Kadis and Kadis of the sharia Courts of Appeal of the States and Presidents and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal of the States;

(d) recommend to the governors the removal from office of the judicial officers specified in sub-paragraph (c) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers;

(e) collect, control and disburse all moneys, capital and recurrent, for the judiciary;

(f) advise the President and governors or any matter pertaining to the judiciary as may be referred to the Council by the President or the covernors;

(g) appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over member and staff of the Council;

(h) control and disburse all monies, capital and recurrent. for the services of the Council; and

(i) deal with all other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration.

Meanwhile, the NJC has recommended the confirmation of Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Another source said: “The council actually did not find him culpable of infractions. He actually did not even want to be inaugurated as the Acting CJN until there was evidence of an ex-parte order from the CCT on Justice Onnoghen’s suspension.

“As the next in-command, the NJC said he should take over from the CJN.”

When contacted, a source in NJC said: “In line with Section 26 of the Judicial Discipline Regulations of 2017, the council has reached out to all those affected by its decisions.

Section 26 says: “The decision taken in regulation 25 of these Regulations shall be notified to the following persons: (a)The subject of the decision; (b)The Complainant and (c) The relevant Head of Court

“Upon a request made to the Council, the decision may be notified to any other person. The grant or refusal of such request is in the absolute discretion of the Council.”. (The Nation)

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Constitutional Crisis Looms In Nigeria As CJN Tenure Ends In Three Weeks

Eniola AkinkuOtu

The nation may be plunged into a constitutional crisis in about three weeks as the tenure of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammad Tanko, comes to an end, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

Muhammad was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2019 following an order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal that the substantive CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, be suspended and the next in line of seniority, be sworn in.

However, the constitution states that the President cannot re-appoint an acting CJN unless on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

Section 231(4) and (5) states, “If the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding has resumed those functions, the President shall appoint the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.

“Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, an appointment pursuant to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section shall cease to have effect after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment, and the President shall not re-appointment a person whose appointment has lapsed.”

Onnoghen and Muhammad are facing a probe by the NJC, the body responsible for the discipline and appointment of judges.

While Onnoghen was given a query by the NJC to respond to allegations on why he failed to declare some of his assets as required by law, the acting CJN was asked to respond to a query on why he allowed himself to be sworn in by Buhari without the recommendation of the NJC as stipulated by the constitution.

Onnoghen has challenged his suspension before the Court of Appeal but the appellate court has withheld judgment for unknown reasons while the case before the CCT has been given an accelerated hearing.

Buhari will only be able to extend Justice Muhammad’s tenure if the NJC sends his name to the President for confirmation.

The President will subsequently be expected to send his name to the Senate for confirmation.

However, the current Senate, led by Senate President Bukola Saraki, has been at loggerheads with the executive branch.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly harshly criticised Buhari for suspending Onnoghen and had even threatened to drag the executive arm of government to the Supreme Court.

Reliable sources in the Presidency feared that if Buhari nominates Muhammad as the CJN to the Senate, the current set of lawmakers would likely reject his nomination.

The current Senate will expire in June, and Saraki, who lost re-election, will not be part of the 9th Senate.

Speaking with our correspondent on Saturday, however, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) said it was too early to speculate as the NJC still had three weeks.

Clarke said the constitution is clear that the appointment of judges should be on the basis of seniority and since Onnoghen remained under suspension, the NJC would have to extend the tenure of Justice Muhammad, who is also being probed by the council.

He said, “The Constitution will not allow a vacuum in any instance. It says the most senior judge will take over as acting CJN. After three months, the NJC can recommend another three months. He has no definitive tenure. It only said if the position is not vacant, the most senior must act.

“The NJC can recommend Tanko (Muhammad) again. I know the NJC will do the right thing. They know more than you and I, they know what to do. The constitution says the most senior. So, the NJC cannot recommend just anyone. Let’s not speculate.”

Also speaking with our correspondent, human rights lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, believed there would be no constitutional crisis because Nigeria always found its way out of such issues.

Ogunye added, “The point is when that time comes, a way would be found. The NJC that is still grappling with the issue of the treatment meted to Onnoghen, which is still considering petitions against him and that of the acting CJN for the fact that he presented himself to be appointed by the President, is that the same NJC that will have time that will be considering what will happen to him in three weeks?” (Punch)

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EFCC Closes Case Against Ex-CJN, Onnoghen At NJC |The Republican News

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has rested its case of alleged misconduct against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the National Judicial Council, The PUNCH has learnt.

Our correspondent learnt from multiple sources conversant with the proceedings of the five-man investigation panel of the NJC that the EFCC rested its case after calling seven witnesses.

The commission was said to have called its first witness on March 12 and rested its case within one week.

It was learnt on Sunday that Onnoghen has since opened his defence and called two witnesses on Wednesday, March 20.

“The EFCC has rested its case and Justice Onnoghen has opened his defence. With this, we expect that the NJC will soon end its investigation,” one of the sources told our correspondent.

In its petition before the NJC, the EFCC, it was learnt, accused Onnoghen of having some suspicious lodgments of huge funds in his bank accounts.

The other petition against the suspended CJN was reportedly by a civil society group, the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative, and its Executive Director, Mr Dennis Aghanya.

The allegations in the petition sent to the NJC by the group were said to be a replica of the petition sent to the Code of Conduct Bureau which informed the six counts filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal accusing the suspended CJN of failure to declare some bank accounts with huge funds in foreign currencies as part of his assets.

The NJC had at its February 13, 2019 meeting reviewed the pre-assessment report on the petitions written against Onnoghen and the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tahko Muhammad, and considered the complaints worthy of being investigated.

The council then set up the five-man panel led by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice S.A. Akande, to investigate the petitions.

There are at least two petitions against each of Onnoghen and Muhammad to be heard by the Justice Akande-led panel.

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NJC Begins Hearing On Petitions Against Onnoghen, Acting CJN, Tanko |RN

Walter-onnoghen-and-tanko-muhammad-

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

 

An investigative panel of the National Judicial Council will this week begin hearing on the petitions of alleged misconduct written against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen; and the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, The PUNCH learnt on Sunday.

Our correspondent learnt the five-man panel set up by the NJC to investigate the petitions against the top judicial officers would conduct a hearing on Muhammad’s case on Tuesday.

It was also learnt that the panel had its first sitting on Onnoghen’s case on February 6 and adjourned till Wednesday.

The NJC had at its February 13, 2019 meeting reviewed the pre-assessment report on the petitions written against the two men and considered the complaints worthy of being investigated.

The council then set up a five-man panel led by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice S.A Akande, to investigate the petitions and issued queries to the judicial officers.

One of the petitions was reportedly written by a civil society group, the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative, and its Executive Director, Mr Dennis Aghanya.

The allegations in the petition sent to the NJC were said to be the same as the one sent to the Code of Conduct Bureau, made up of six counts, accusing the suspended CJN of failure to declare some bank accounts with huge funds in foreign currencies as part of his assets.

The other petition sent to the NJC was said to be by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accusing Onnoghen of having suspicious lodgements of huge funds in his bank accounts.

The petition sent to the NJC against Muhammad was reportedly authored by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), who requested that Muhammad be sanctioned for submitting himself to President Muhammadu Buhari to be sworn in as acting CJN without any recommendation by the NJC.

Our correspondent gathered that both Onnoghen and Muhammad had replied to the queries issued to them.

Agbakoba, the author of the petition against Justice Muhammad, confirmed to our correspondent on Sunday that he had received a notice for the Tuesday hearing on the Acting CJN’s case.

“I will appear before the panel on Tuesday,” Agbakoba told our correspondent over the telephone.

Our correspondent learnt that Mr R.A. Rabana-Lawal (SAN), who was said to have led Onnoghen’s team to the March 6 sitting of the NJC’s investigative panel, could not be reached on the telephone on Sunday.    (Punch)

 

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JUST IN: Suspended CJN, Onnoghen Appears At CCT |The Republican News

Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, on Friday, appeared at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), in Abuja.

Onnoghen is being tried over non-declaration of assets.

Justice Onnoghen arrived the CCT in company of his lawyers and security operatives. Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, had issued a bench Warrant on embattled Justice Onnoghen on Wednesday after failure to appear before the CCT in prior summons.

Details later…

 

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BREAKING: NJC Gives Onnoghen, Tanko 7-days Ultimatum To Respond To Petitions Against Them

Godwin Tsa, Abuja

 

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has slammed a seven-day ultimatum on both the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and the acting CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko to respond to petitions against them.

In addition, the council further referred to the petition against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) for consideration.

The decision of the council was reached at the end of its emergency meeting on Tuesday in Abuja, under the chairmanship of retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi.

The meeting, which was held without Justices Onnoghen and Tanko, considered four petitions filed at its secretariat.

The petitions are those against Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education, petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative, petition against Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, and petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

At the end of its deliberations, the council referred the petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) which is the appropriate constitutional body empowered to deal with it.

A statement by the NJC Director of Information, Soji Oye, confirmed the position of the NJC.

It reads: “The National Judicial Council held an emergency meeting today and considered four (4) petitions filed at its secretariat.

“In line with its procedure, the council also forwarded the petitions against Hon. Justices W.S.N. Onnoghen, and I. T. Muhammad, to them for their responses.

“In view of the gravity of the matters involved, council abridged the usual response period from fourteen (14) to seven (7) working days for the Hon. Justices to respond.

“Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON, and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR excused themselves from the meeting. Consequently, the council elected Hon. Mr. Justice Umaru Abdullahi, former President of the Court of Appeal as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting.

Council will reconvene on the 11th February 2019.”

(The Sun)

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Niger Delta Militants Threaten To Shut Down Oil Wells Over CJN, Onnoghen’s Trial

               Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen

The Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators on Sunday warned that it would begin to attack oil wells in the oil-rich region if President Buhari failed to reverse the harassment of  Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The various militant groups said they were shocked to learn about the planned arraignment of the CJN over allegations of false asset declaration.

A statement issued via electronic mail by the coalition alleged that Onnoghen was being persecuted because he was from the Niger Delta, adding that the petition was plotted by the Presidency to forcefully remove Onnoghen as the CJN and replace him with a northerner.

The statement was signed by John Duku of the Niger Delta Watchdogs  and Convener, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators; Ekpo Ekpo of the Niger Delta Volunteers; Simply Benjamin (Bakassi Strike Force); Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters); and Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters).

It stated, “In the first instance, President Muhammadu Buhari was not disposed to Justice Onnoghen’s appointment to this position, which was why he refused to confirm the appointment after so many months of serving in an acting capacity. It was during the period of his sickness while in Britain that the (then) acting President – Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, confirmed the appointment.

“We wish to also recall that in August last year, Mr Matthew Seiyefa of Bayelsa State, who was the most senior and most qualified officer at the time was appointed to the position of acting Director-General of the Department of State Services by Prof. Osinbajo, only to be replaced with a retired and junior officer to Seiyefa, Mr Yusuf Bichi, by President Buhari as soon as he resumed duties.

“We hereby vehemently resist any attempt to remove the CJN from office. We, therefore, want to state categorically that if the Presidency failed to reverse its harassment against the CJN, we will have no other option but to mobilise all the Niger Delta fighters and commence serious actions that would shake the country and the whole world.

“We shall shut down all the oil wells in the Niger Delta. We call on all the northerners and Yoruba who own oil wells in the Niger Delta to prepare to vacate immediately.

“We also want to warn our Niger Delta brothers, who are working for Buhari to watch their back and know that we are watching them and their family members. We warn them to stop campaigning for Buhari in the Niger Delta,” the militants added.  (Punch)

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Exposed: Justice Walter Onnoghen’s Nemesis, Dennis Aghanya, Was President Buhari’s Aide

The identity of the man who wrote a damning petition against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has been revealed.

According to online information about Mr. Dennis Aghanya, he was a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari between 2009 and 2011; while he was also a pioneer National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change.

Aghanya is not new to controversy, as he once advised the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, to dissolve the party’s two factions in Enugu State when they couldn’t seem to agree on the way forward.

In a letter made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on the APC Enugu issue, Aghanya had said, “The situation is currently threatening the fortunes of the party to the detriment of efforts by serious candidates who are investing time and finance to ensure victory for themselves and President Muhammadu Buhari at the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

“I suggest that the National Working Committee of the APC should, as a matter of urgency, dissolve the two factions led by Okey Ogbodo and Ben Nwoye respectively.

According to him, ignoring the advice will amount to deliberately weakening the party to the advantage of the incumbent in Enugu State;and that it will deliberately “sabotage Buhari from making inroad into the South East.”

Aghanya, on November 5, 2018, as reported by NAN, as the Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, led a coalition of 24 Civil Society Organisations (C24) to assert that some “desperate politicians” were planning to destabilise the country’s peace, before, during and after the 2019 general elections.

Aghanya raised the alarm on behalf of the coalition at a news conference in Abuja. The allegation has not been proved, however.

Again, on April 29, 2018 Aghanya-led ARDI appealed to the National Assembly to show understanding over President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged purchase of $496m aircraft from the U.S. without due process.

He had told the legislators: “The President, as a human being, could make mistakes.”

He then advised the legislators to avoid actions that would heat up the system, NAN had reported then.

Aghanya is reasonably active on Facebook, with mostly political posts, though his LinkedIn page is nuanced. He is new to Twitter and has only made three tweets within his nine months of joining, all on political matters.

His petition against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, is Aghanya’s latest foray into public space.    (Punch)

 

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