Justice Walter Onnoghen
The Cross River caucus in the National Assembly has urged the Presidency to transmit the name of Justice Walter Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Onnoghen (67), who is the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), is a native of Okurike town in Biase Local Government Area of Cross Rivers.
He obtained Bachelor of Law Degree, with upper division from the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1977 and his Bachelor of Law from the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos in 1978 and appointed as a Supreme Court Judge in 20015,
Speaking on behalf of the caucus, Sen. John Enoh told newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday that the move would be in fulfillment of Section 231(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Enoh expressed concern over the delay in transmitting the name of Onnoghen as the substantive CJN.
“The continuous delay by the Presidency to forward Justice Onnoghen’s name to Senate for confirmation, without any lawful and constitutional cause, has brought the issue of judiciary and security of tenure of Judges to doubt and public discourse,’’ he said.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) in exercise of its powers, on Oct. 13, 2016 recommended Onnoghen as the CJN to the President.
President Muhammadu Buhari thereafter appointed and swore him in as the Acting CJN on Nov. 10, 2016.
“Exactly two months and 15 days, the presidency has delayed and withheld to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation as CJN as required by the constitution.’’
“We are worried by this development for obvious reasons; as a hallowed institution, the judiciary is the bastion of our democracy and should be insulated from undue pressure, influence, politics and manipulation of political predators.
“It operates on an established tradition of a settled succession based on merit and seniority.
“Before now, the convention was for the President to forward the name of a candidate so recommended to him by the NJC in exercise of his powers and responsibility.
“Pursuant to its mandate, what is required from the presidency, in this case, is a decisive action of simply transmitting the name of Justice Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation.
Unfortunately, this has not happened.’’ Enoh say.