PHOTOS: Seven-Man Panel Headed By CJN Hears Atiku’s Appeal Against Buhari

A view of the Supreme Courtroom before the commencement of Atiku’s appeal. PHOTO: SODIQ ADELAKUN/CHANNELS TV

 

Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Tanko Muhammadu is leading the seven-man panel currently hearing the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 23, 2019 poll.

Other members of the panel are Justices Bode Rhodes-Vivour, Olukayode Ariwoola, John Okoro, Amiru Sanusi, Ejembi Eko and Uwani Abba-Ajji.

READ ALSO: Supreme Court Commences Hearing On Atiku’s Appeal

The National Chairmen of both the PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Uche Secondus and Adams Oshiomhole are in the courtroom. They were seen exchanging pleasantries before the hearing commenced.

A handful of chieftains and supporters from both parties are also in the courtroom.

 

See photos below…

Senate Confirms Tanko Muhammad As Chief Justice Of Nigeria

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Justice Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

This was after Muhammad was screened by the Senate, during his confirmation hearing.

The screening lasted for about 90 minutes and he responded to questions on the independence of the judiciary, administration of criminal justice, corruption and the poor funding of the judiciary.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last week Thursday forwarded to the Senate, a letter requesting for confirmation of Muhammad as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Buhari’s letter of request was a sequel to the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to make Justice Tanko the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Mr Muhammad was first appointed in January after the president suspended Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was accused of false declaration of asset.

Justice Tanko Muhammad Seeks Executive, Legislature Partnership To Restructure Judiciary

 

Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammed has called for collaboration between the three tiers of government to reposition the judiciary.

Justice Tanko who spoke at the red Chambers on Wednesday while addressing Senators on his confirmation as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria said that the judiciary will not go begging the executives for anything.

“The Nigerian judiciary is only one arm of government, we cannot on our own, except when we put heads together with the legislature and the executive, that we may be able to project Nigerian judiciary to the limelight.

“With due respect, that is not the true position of what is obtained in the society, we rely on what is made as a provision for us, we never go hand in cap begging or asking for anything, because if I ask tomorrow, I will be asked, and I wouldn’t like it. Therefore, we are very careful and we remain contempt with the provision made for us.”

READ ALSO: Senate Confirms Tanko Muhammad As Chief Justice Of Nigeria

The acting CJN stated that a lot of amendments need to be done to many laws so that the operations of the Judiciary can be instrumental; particularly a review of the criminal laws of the country to make stiffer penalties that will deter criminals.

“Where we have the opportunity like the one the Senate has provided today if I am permitted to bring all sorts of problems that are becoming stumbling blocks to the progress of the Nigerian judiciary, or particularly, the federal level.

“We hope by the time we go back, we make attempts to bring our proposal for the amendments of many of our laws, when we get them amended, certainly, the operations will be better.

“I intend, God’s willing to project if I have the cooperation of the executive and the legislature.”

He urged lawmakers to look into the financial autonomy of the judiciary, as this would close the ends that could encourage corruption in the judiciary.

Tanko Muhammad Appears Before Senate For Screening As CJN

National Assembly Must Reconvene Immediately – APC
National Assembly Complex (file)

 

The Senate has commenced the screening of Tanko Muhammad, as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The lawmakers had gone into an executive session and resolved to begin the screening and confirmation.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: Senate President Lawan Proposes National Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday last week, requested the confirmation of Mr Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

His request was a sequel to the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to make Justice Tanko the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Mr Muhammad was first appointed in January after the president suspended Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was accused of false declaration of asset.

Court Strikes Out Suit Seeking To Stop Confirmation Of Tanko Muhammad As CJN      

Tanko Muhammad

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out a suit challenging Justice Tanko Muhammad’s competence to hold the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo made his judgement on the grounds that Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation who is the plaintiff, lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.

READ ALSO: Buhari Asks Senate To Confirm Tanko Muhammad As CJN

Justice Ekwo also held that the group does not have the power to engage in the public interest litigation which it claimed to be undertaking by filing the action.

He adds that contrary to the claim of the plaintiff to be a non-governmental organisation, there is no legislation in Nigeria permitting the registration of any group as such and no group registered under the Part C of the company could engage in such litigation.

Justice Ekwo asks the National Assembly to emulate some Commonwealth countries like Uganda and Zimbabwe that have separate legislations on registration of the non-governmental organisation.

The court decision comes a day after President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded the name of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to the Senate for approval as the substantive CJN.

The President’s request was sent in a letter to the Senate on Thursday.

A second letter was also sent by President Buhari, seeking the approval for the appointment of 15 special advisers.

CJN Onnoghen Denies Resigning

Walter Onnoghen Sworn-In As Chief Justice Of Nigeria
Justice Walter Onnoghen

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen has denied media reports that he has resigned following his suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to a statement by his media aide, Awassam Bassey, the CJN described as ‘Fake News’ all reports suggesting that he has resigned.

“Mischief makers are still circulating this fake news. Once again, no truth in it whatsoever. The Hon CJN, Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, has not resigned”, Awassam Bassey said.

READ ALSO: Agbakoba Submits Petition Against Acting CJN, Tanko Mohammed

There have been several speculations regarding Justice Onnoghen case at the Code Of Conduct Bureau.

President Buhari suspended Justice Onnoghen on Friday, January 25, Justice Tanko Mohammed was sworn in to serve as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The President’s move has since generated diverse reactions across the country and even in the international community.

‘No Matter Who I Choose, Christians In Southern Kaduna Will Never Vote For Me’ – El-Rufai

 

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has said that regardless of who he chooses as his deputy, the Christians in Southern Kaduna will still not vote him as governor in the coming polls. 

El-Rufai stated this on Channel’s Television’s Sunrise Daily while reacting to questions about his choice of a Muslim as his running mate for the next gubernatorial election in Kaduna.

The governor said, “What if I tell you that no matter who I choose as my running mate, even if I choose the Pope, 67 per cent of the Christians in Southern Kaduna have made up their minds that they will never vote for me”.

According to El-Rufai, his choice of Hadiza Balarabe as a running mate is politically motivated.

He said, “I am a politician, so everything I do is politically motivated”.

El-Rufai said he has chosen anyone based on ethnic or religious bias, urging Nigerians to go beyond these prejudices in the best interest of the nation.

READ ALSO: General Elections: INEC Releases Full List Of Presidential, NASS Candidates

The governor went on to say that for him, the issue is that Kaduna state is divided and needs to be united and the only way to this is to take “religion and ethnicity off the table”.

El-Rufai also reacted to the case of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Speaking on polity in Kaduna and Nigeria as a whole, El-Rufai said it is time Nigerian leaders and people are reflective in decisions, rather than operate on ethnic or religious biases.

In the case of Onnoghen, the Kaduna state governor said the position taken by governors of the South-south is disheartening.

He said, “One of the most painful things I have experienced in the last two weeks, was the statement by the governors of the South-south, justifying that non-declaration of assets is nothing, is a non-issue because the Chief Justice of Nigeria is from the South-South”.

The governor argued that “wrong is wrong and right should be right”, and as such, leaders should advise that we can’t do it all the time, sometimes it’s not black and white, it’s a bit of grey, but we must stand for something that is right”.

‘I Feel Very Sad’, Osinbajo Reacts To CJN Onnoghen’s Trial

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reacted to the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, noting that he is sad about the situation.

He also said President Muhammadu Buhari did not know about the plan to arraign the CJN until Saturday evening. According to him, the President had always made clear that institutions should not be interfered with.

 READ ALSO: 

EFCC Denies Raid On Justice Onnoghen’s Residence

Onnoghen’s Trial: PDP Alleges Plot To Rig General Elections

Osinbanjo said this on Wednesday at the opening of the Online Publishers Conference in Abuja. He added that he is sad about the turn of events and regrets the current situation where a senior member of his profession is subjected to such judicial process.

“I feel very sad that is going on at all.

“President Muhammadu Buhari, his whole approach is that institutions should just do their work. I can tell by fact that he did not know about this until Saturday evening.

“He did not know that there will be any kind of arraignment until Saturday evening. He has said categorically don’t interfere with what the institutions are doing. Sometimes it has consequences like we have today.

“My take is that I rather not have a situation where members of a profession are being tried for an offence. I don’t feel particularly good about it, as a matter of fact, I feel very sad about it, that is going on at all,” he said.

Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.

The charges against him are based on a petition signed by the executive secretary of the anti-corruption research data based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.

The petition alleges amongst others things that the CJN failed to declare ownership of sundry accounts funded through cash deposits made by himself up to August 10, 2016.

CJN Onnoghen Absent As Trial Commences

 

The trial of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, commenced on Monday without him in attendance.

Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.

The CJN was represented at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by a team of lawyers led by Mr Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

Over 70 lawyers including 47 Senior Advocates of Nigeria were part of the team that represented Justice Onnoghen.

Mr Olanipekun during the session informed the tribunal that the CJN does not need to appear when he has not been properly served.

The prosecution acknowledged that it did not serve the CJN properly and asked the tribunal to order personal service on Justice Onnoghen.

It also agreed that the law stated that the CJN must be served personally.


RELATED:
Over 70 Lawyers Arrive CCT Session To Defend CJN Onnoghen

CCB Files Criminal Charges Against Chief Justice Of Nigeria


Other lawyers in the defence team were a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, Mr Chris Uche, and Mr Adegboyega Awomolo.

Five South-South governors had asked the CJN not to honour the summons from the Code of Conduct Bureau to appear before the tribunal.

The governors made the call after an emergency meeting in Abuja on Sunday.

Over 70 Lawyers At CCT Session To Defend CJN Onnoghen

A team of lawyers number over 70 led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has arrived the Code Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja to defend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The defence team includes over 40 Senior Advocates Nigeria (SAN) with one SAN on the side of the prosecution.

The CJN is scheduled for arraignment before the tribunal today, although he has not been seen on the tribunal’s premises. The proceedings is scheduled to start by 10:00 a.m.

RELATED:

Withdraw Charges Against CJN, Falana Tells FG

South-South Governors Tell CJN To Ignore Planned CCT Trial

Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria in his defence team who were already seated awaiting the commencement of the proceedings include, Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, Wole Olanipekun, Chief Chris Uche, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo among others.

On the side of the prosecution, there are five lawyers led by Aliyu Umar SAN.

Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.

The charges against the CJN are based on a petition signed by the executive secretary of the anti-corruption research data based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.

The petition alleges amongst others things that the CJN failed to declare ownership of sundry accounts funded through cash deposits made by himself up to August 10, 2016.

Walter Onnoghen Sworn-In As Chief Justice Of Nigeria

Walter Onnoghen Sworn-In As Chief Justice Of NigeriaJustice Walter Onnoghen has been sworn-in as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

After taking his oath of office, Onnoghen was also decorated by the Acting President with the national honour of the Grand Commander of Order of the Niger (GCON), as customary with the inauguration of CJNs.

Osinbajo also revealed that he spoke with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, and that the President had sent his good wishes to the CJN.

The Acting President believes that Justice Onnoghen is assuming the position at a crucial time in the nation’s history when many have lost confidence in the judiciary.

He therefore urged him to use his position to revive the judiciary.

Present at the occasion were Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former CJNs members of the Federal Executive Council, Justices of the Supreme Court, his family members, among others.

The Senate had confirmed the nomination of Mr Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, on March 1.

The confirmation came after the House had screened him for nearly 1 hour 15 minutes.

During the screening process, Federal Lawmakers questioned him on issues of the independence of the judiciary, judicial reforms, corruption in the Judiciary, as well as disobedience of court orders.

The new CJN maintained that the independence of the judiciary would continue under his watch.

He had been in acting capacity since November 10, 2016 when President Muhammadu Buhari okayed him for the position, following the retirement of Mahmud Mohammed.

Mr Osinbajo, had sent his name to the Senate for confirmation as Chief Justice Of Nigeria on February 8, just two days before the expiration of his three –month acting tenure.

Also, the National Judicial Council (NJC), had extended Mr Onnoghen’s tenure by another three months, on the grounds that it may have been impossible for the Senate, which was on recess at the time, to reconvene and screen Onnoghen before the expiration date of his tenure.

The initial delay by President Buhari to send his name to the Senate, had been trailed by criticism and condemnation, with some alleging ethnic bias as the reason for the President’s “seeming reluctance”.

Onnoghen has been a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria since 2005 and his eventual confirmation, makes him the first CJN from the southern part of the country in about 30 years.

Osinbajo Flags Off Lagos-Ibadan New Rail Project

Yemi Osinbajo Flags Off Lagos-Ibadan New Rail ProjectNigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday performed the ground breaking for the commencement of work on the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project.

It has been another busy day for the Acting President who flew into Lagos State for the commissioning, shortly after swearing-in the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

Speaking at the ceremony which took place at the Nigerian Railway Compound in Ebute Metta, Professor Osinbajo restated the Federal Government’s resolve to revive and modernise rail transportation in order to ease pressure on the nation’s roads.

The Acting President, in statement made by public by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, said: “I am extremely pleased and honoured to be here this morning for the ground breaking ceremony of the Lagos-Ibadan section of the Lagos -Kano standard gauge railway project. This is an epochal moment in our national life in many ways.

“First, it signals the determination of our President and Commander-in- Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, to modernise the national rail system in keeping with his promise to the Nigerian people. If there is a project close to the heart of the president, it is the rail project which he promised the nation upon assumption of office. The President himself made a visit to China, and reopened the negotiations on the Chinese support for this project.

“Second, this ceremony also marks the commencement of our plan to move speedily to improve links between Lagos, which is the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capitals and towns across the country.

“Thirdly, our ground breaking today reflects the plans of the Federal Government to build a globally competitive economy with first grade infrastructure. The critical role of infrastructure, and for this purpose railways, in this strategy is underscored by our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, as well as the 2016 and 2017 budgets. We have made provisions for matching funds in the 2016 budget to complement the concessionary loans taken from the Peoples Republic of China, and our appreciation goes to the Chinese Government and the Chinese Exim Bank, who are, and have always proved to be reliable partners to Nigeria.

A Boost To Economic Activities

“And some may be aware that we have the entire Lagos-Kano standard gauge track as well as the Lagos-Calabar railway track in the 2017 budget, negotiations on the Kaduna-Kano portion of the track is now completed and this phase is next in line.

“We have already provided our portion for funding Lagos-Calabar rail as well and we expect that negotiations on the foreign component of the funding will be finalised in the next three months and that the Lagos-Calabar project as well will come on stream.

“An active and vibrant railway system confers many benefits on the society and our ultimate goal is to restore a railway-using culture for both commercial and personal transportation. We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of over 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

“It will also reduce the burden on national highways, thus reducing the deterioration of the road network and increasing the lifespan of our roads. Indeed by helping to reduce freight cost, the railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potential.

“Just as several of our cities are being known as railway towns in the past, we expect a boost to economic activities along the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country. To achieve this objectives, the Federal Ministry of Transportation has completed visibility studies for up to 13 routes which has been identified for connecting state capitals and major commercials centres to the rail network. We should begin to see significant activities in this regard very shortly.

Fast And Efficient Train Service

“It is important however, to have viable self-sustaining and self-improving railway service. It should be one that is not reliant on government funding which may not be available at all times. It should be one that could be upgraded and improved over time and not left to decay due to management issues or lack of attention. This is why the Federal Government supports the replacement of the 1955 Railway Act with a legal framework that opens railway projects in the country for greater private sector participation. In this way, we expect to ensure the resources and management to run efficient modern and reliable train services.

“Let me conclude by acknowledging the vigorous and energetic efforts of the Honourable Minister and his team in the Ministry of Transportation to get us to this point. The Honourable Minister of Finance also deserves to be commended for the efficient and competent handling of financial negotiations.

“But I think it bears repeating: that Rotimi Ameachi’s bulldozing approach to ensure that we are here today on this first day of construction so quickly!

“I am confident that we will see the same zeal and result in project executions so that the construction of the railway lines will be completed on schedule. Just for emphasis, as a reminder to our excellent partners and manufacturers CCECC, we are looking forward to a fast and efficient train service between Lagos and Ibadan within the projected time frame, which is on or before December 2018”.