Federal Lawmakers Demand Immediate Confirmation Of Justice Walter Onnoghen As CJN

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By Sadiq Umar – The federal lawmakers from Cross Rivers State on Tuesday demanded the immediate confirmation of Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), wondering why it has taken the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government three months after his recommendation by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The NJC had on the strength of constitutional powers granted it by section 231(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended, recommended Onnoghen to President Muhammadu Buhari as the next CJN after the expiration of tenure of his immediate predecessor, Justice Mahmud Muhammed on November 8, 2016.

Though, President Buhari in line with the recommendation, sworn in Onnoghen as Acting CJN on Thursday, November 9, 2016, but 10 days to the three months duration for such acting capacity, the President is yet to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation as substantive CJN.

Briefing the press journalists Tuesday in Abuja, Leader of the National Assembly Caucus, Senator John Owan Enoh (PDP Cross River Central), described the delay as an unfortunate development and an obvious travesty carried out for too long.

“This unfortunate development has enveloped the Supreme Court and Judiciary with an intriguing cobweb of uncertainty and given conspiracy theorists a field day to decode why this obvious travesty has endured up till now”, they said.

Enoh on behalf of the lawmakers added that President Buhari’s inaction in this regard, was fueling growing sentiments on perceived reasons for Onnoghen’s non confirmation.

He said: “There is growing sentiment in certain quarters , that Justice Onnoghen’s earned elevation to the rank of Chief Justice of Nigeria is held in abeyance precisely because he is either not from a particular ethnic origin preferred by powerful forces or his profound and at times radical judicial pronouncements make him  too principled to occupy this exalted office. The President’s inaction in this instance has acted as a cannon fodder for those alluding to a vast conspiracy to deny Justice Onnoghen his earned position”.

The lawmakers therefore called on the Presidency to without further delay, forward Justice Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as CJN.

“We therefore call on the President to act in clear and decisive manner now, by transmitting without further delay, the name of Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria as recommended by the National Judicial Council’, they stressed.

This according to them will bring to an end, the swirling speculations of vendetta against the revered Justice and restore confidence in our Judiciary.

“The continuous delay of the president to forward the name of Hon. Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation without any lawful and constitutional cause has brought the issue of the independence of the judiciary and security of tenure of judges to doubt and public discourse. It has opened the floodgate of political and social insinuations and entrenched the perception of ethno-regional prejudice and politicization of the judiciary. This is most unfortunate”, they added.

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