Onnoghen suspension, NJC reacts

Nigeria’s body of judges, the National Judicial Council (NJC), on Tuesday gave the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, and the acing CJN, Tanko Muhammad, seven days to respond to petitions against them.

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The NJC gave the ultimatum during an emergency meeting in response to the suspension of Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Concise News understands that the emergency meeting was presided over by a former president of the Court of Appeal Justice Umar Abdullahi.

The Council, based on the Nigerian Constitution, is responsible for the Appointment, Promotion and Discipline of Judicial Officers.

And it was learned that the body of judges considered four petitions including one against the Chairman of the Code Of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.

The petition against Justice Umar was referred to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), as the NJC fixed February 11, 2019, to reconvene.

President Buhari’s action has since become a subject of controversy, with the Nigerian Senate on Monday asking the Supreme Court to reverse the suspension of Onnoghen, and the Presidency sending a petition to the NJC over corruption allegations against the suspended CJN.

Below is the full NJC statement after the meeting:

NJC ends Emergency Meeting

Gives Hon. Mr. Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR seven (7) working days to respond to petitions.

Refers petition against CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
To reconvene on 11th February 2019.

The National Judicial Council held an Emergency Meeting today and considered four (4) petitions filed at its Secretariat. The petitions are:

Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education;

Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative;

Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, OON; and

Petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

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.

In line with its procedure, Council also forwarded the petitions against Hon. Justices W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON and I. T. Muhammad, CFR 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 recused themselves from the meeting. Consequently, Council elected Hon. Mr. Justice Umaru Abdullahi, CON, former President of the Court of Appeal as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting.

Council will reconvene on the 11th February 2019.