President Buhari Suspends Onnoghen, Swears In Mohammed As Acting CJN
President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Following the suspension, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed has been appointed as the acting CJN.
According to the president, the development is based on the request of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, pending the completion of Onnoghen’s trial.
Justice Tanko Mohammed who hails from Bauchi State is the most senior justice of the Supreme Court.
Justice Onnoghen is being tried over allegations of failing to declare his assets.
At the seating on Tuesday (January 22), the Federal Government had applied for him (the CJN) to step aside.
The Counsel to the government, Mr Aliu Umar, informed the tribunal that the application asking him to step aside was not aimed at removing him as the CJN and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
He explained that the application was filed to excuse the judge from the duties of a CJN to enable him defend himself before the tribunal.
But the lead counsel to Onnoghen, Wole Olanipekun, informed the three-man panel of the orders of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court and National Industrial Court restraining the Tribunal from proceeding with the trial of the CJN.
Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), argued that it was his responsibility, as an officer of the court, to inform the Tribunal of the orders of the various courts.
He stated that the defendant had appealed to the Court of Appeal, challenging the order of the Tribunal to hear the motion challenging its jurisdiction along with the trial.
The senior lawyer added that the appeal at the Appellate Court had been adjourned till Thursday, January 24.
He noted that it would amount to judicial rascality for a court or tribunal to disobey subsisting court orders that were yet to be vacated.
Olanipekun, therefore, urged the tribunal to give effect to the restraining orders in addition to the appeal before the Appeal Court and adjourn the trial indefinitely, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
At the resumed hearing of the appeal on Thursday (January 24), the Court of Appeal in Abuja ruled that the CCT was barred from proceeding with the case.
The Defence Counsel, Wole Olanipekun, however, told the court that the CCT had vowed not to comply with orders from other courts which it described as Court of Coordinate Jurisdiction except that of the Court of Appeal.
After listening to arguments from both the defence and prosecuting councils, Justice Abdul Aboki who presided over the appeal, ordered the CCT to stay proceeding pending the determination of the appeal.
The case was, thereafter, adjourned to January 30, 2019.