Buhari suspends Onnoghen, swears in Mohammed as acting CJN

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Buhari with acting CJN, Tanko

President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended Justice Walter Onnoghen  as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.

He has sworn in Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, from Bauchi state, as the acting CJN.

He said the suspension was based on the order of Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on January 23, 2019.

Mohammed was sworn in inside the council chamber of the presidential villa in Abuja.

The swearing-in ceremony was done after the president signed the new executive order 007.

Mohammed was driven into the forecourt of the president’s office in a black Mercedes Benz C240 with number plate: GWA:900FA, at 4:30pm.

Newsworth recalls that a civil society group, the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, ARDI, launched a legal move to remove
Onnoghen.

The group had written a petition against him at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, which is empowered by the constitution to investigate public officers, after which it would forward its findings to the appropriate body for trial if the allegations are confirmed.

It had listed a number of allegations against Onnoghen — notably false declaration of assets.
ARDI said Onnoghen “is the owner of sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself up to as recently as 10th August 2016 which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials”.

The group said its petition, dated January 7, 2019, became necessary “bearing in mind the imminence of the 2019 General Elections and the overwhelming roles of the Judicial Arm both before and after”.

Shortly after this, the CCB filed a six-count charge against the former CJN at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, but he failed to appear before the tribunal while his lawyers challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.

Meanwhile, below is the interim order on the strength of which the President suspended and inaugurated a new Chief Justice for the nation.

“An Interim Order of the Honourable Tribunal directing the Defendant/Respondent to step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chairman of the National Judicial Council over an allegation of the Contravening the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the Motion on Notice dated 10th Day of January 2019.

“An Interim Order of the Honourable Tribunal directing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to take all necessary measure to swear the most Senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the motion on Notice.

“And for such further order(s) as this Honourable Tribunal may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.

“It is hereby ordered as follows: That the defendant/respondent shall step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council over allegation of Contravening the provisions of the code of Conducts and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the Motion on notice dated 10th January 2019.

“That the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall take all necessary measure to swear in the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the motion on notice.

“This matter is hereby adjourned to the 28 Day of January 2019 for Hearing.

“Issued at Abuja under the Hand and Seal of the Honorable Chairman and Member of this Honourable Tribunal this 23th Day of January 2019 By Hon Danladi Y. Umar, Hon. Chairman, and Mrs. Julie A. Anabor Hon Member II.”

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