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Buhari swears in Onnoghen as Acting CJN, tasks judiciary on corruption

President Muhammadu Buhari has sworn in Walter Samuel Onnoghen from Cross River State, as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN. The development found relevance in Section 230 subsection (iv) and Section 231 subsection (I) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. Onnoghen would take over from Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who has just proceeded on retirement leave, though his appointment would have to be confirmed by the Senate. Performing the ritual at the Council Chamber of State House, yesterday, President Buhari sought the cooperation of the judiciary in the fight against corruption and insecurity as a way of boosting the economy. Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen taking the oath of office before the President at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi ADESHIDA 10/11/2016 He said: “I congratulate the new acting CJN to have come in this trying time in the life of our nation. Trying time in the sense of the three identifiable problems this country is facing – physical security, the problem of economy and corruption. “In this room contains the constitutional bodies that are responsible for bringing Nigeria back into line in terms of security and managing it efficiently, while making sure that the economy is resuscitated and that security of doing business at all stages in the country is free and fair.” The President, while congratulating the former CJN for the time spent in office, also wished him well in other personal future endeavors.

Speaking on the occasion, the new CJN, Walter Onnoghen, expressed gratitude to God for his new position. Promising to assist in the fight against corruption, he said:  “In this state of our development and with your programme in tow, I assure you of the full cooperation of the third arm of government in the continuation of the war against corruption and misconduct in the judiciary. “I intend to carry on where my predecessors stopped, modify certain areas but with the general ultimate goal of having a better judiciary befitting the nation, Nigeria. Thank you for the confidence reposed in me and by the grace of God, we shall succeed”. Also speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the ceremony, the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who agreed that there was strong presence of corruption in almost all facets of the polity, solicited the cooperation of Nigerians to fish out corrupt elements.

“We agree corruption is everywhere. But you see, we are all Nigerians but in the judiciary, it is there we need the assistance of all Nigerians to help fish out those corrupt elements within us so that we could fight with vigour to deliver a clean judiciary for the nation to fight against corruption and to assist in revamping the economy in the interest of this nation. “It is in order to secure the economy all over because the judiciary has a big role to play in every aspect of our lives,” he said. The event was witnessed by family members of the new CJN, immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, President of National Industrial Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Alfa Belgore and Aluma Murkhtar. What the AGF told Vanguard On Onnoghen’s appointment, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had told Vanguard in an interview that the government would be guided by the law in the choice of Mohammed’s successor and asked Nigerians speculating on the matter to hold their peace. Malami explained that the appointment of a new Chief Judge was not the sole responsibility of the Presidency but a tripartite arrangement involving the President, the Senate and the National Judicial Council, NJC.

The Justice Minister pointed out that, while the NJC had recommended Justice Walter Onneghen, as the most senior judge of the apex court for appointment as the next CJN, the Presidency and the Senate still had roles to play before a new CJN could emerge. The AGF said there was no need for anyone to doubt the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari, as he would always be guided by appropriate laws in taking his decision on the matter. He said Buhari would be guided by Section 231(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which provides a three-month window for the emergence of a new CJN. The section states: “If the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office,’ then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the President ‘shall appoint the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.” Justice Walter Onnoghen, from Cross River State, is the most senior justice of the Supreme Court and has accordingly been nominated by the NJC to the President for confirmation as the CJN to succeed Mohammed, who is bowing out today. Malami said: “We believe in allowing a system to run its natural course and never put things on hold on account of speculation. It is never about personality but doing the right things and being fair on the system in allowing it to take its natural course.” The man Onnoghen: According to an abridged profile made available to journalists, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, CFR (Commander of the Federal Republic) was born on December 22, 1950, at Okurike Town, Biase L.G.A. of Cross River State. He attended the Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike Town between 1959 and 1966 and later proceeded to Accra, Ghana, to attend Odorgorno Secondary School, Adabraka, between 1967 and 1972 for his West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Exams. He was at Accra Academy, Ghana, between 1972 and 1974 for his WAEC (A-Levels) before proceeding to the University of Ghana, Legon, between 1974 and 1977 to obtain his Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B (Hons)) and graduated with 2nd Class Upper Division and was among the best graduating students. He attended the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos between 1977 and 1978 for his B.L certificate. He completed his compulsory National Youth Service Scheme, NYSC, in July 1979. His previous professional appointments/positions include Pupil State Counsel, Lagos State, (1978 -1979); Partner in the Law Firm of Effiom Ekong & Company, Calabar (1979 – 1988); Principal Partner/Head of Chambers of Walter Onnoghen & Associates, Calabar (1988 -1989); Chairman, Cross River State Armed Robbery and Fire Arms Tribunal (1990 – 1993); Chairman, Judicial Enquiry into the Crisis between Students of the University of Calabar and Obufa Esuk Orok Community, Calabar (1996); Chairman, Failed Banks Tribunal, Ibadan Zone (1998); High Court Judge, Cross River State Judiciary (1989 – 1998); Justice of the Court of Appeal (Nov 1998-June 2005) Hon. Justice W.S. Nkanu Onnoghen was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (JSC) since 2005. He is also a Justice of the Supreme Court of The Gambia. A Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Fellow of the National Judicial Institute, Hon. Justice Onnoghen has attended several conferences and seminars within and outside Nigeria and presented scholarly papers. He is a member of the Body of Benchers and Life Bencher; Chairman, Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, and Vice-Chairman, Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee among others. Hon. Justice Onnoghen, who is currently the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, is married with children.

Gov. Ayade lauds his appointment Reacting to Onnoghen’s appointment, Cross River State governor, Senator Ben Ayade, described the appointment of Justice Onnoghen as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Mohammadu Buhari as a round peg in a round hole. The governor in a congratulatory message signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, described Onnoghen’s elevation as a deserving honour to a patriot and gentleman. He said: “Your appointment as the Chief Justice of the Nigeria is a clear testimony to your integrity, morality, industry, passion and commitment to the values and noble ideals for which our people are known for. “On behalf of the government and good people of Cross River State, I wish to congratulate you most profoundly on your well-deserved elevation.” For us, this is a charge on you to do more and give more of your honest and selfless service to humanity and society as a whole. We are indeed proud of you.” Governor Ayade particularly thanked President Buhari for his special consideration of Cross River sons and daughters in several of his top appointments. “Our profound gratitude goes to our President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari for his graciousness in appointing our son, Justice Walter Onoghen as the Chief Justice of the Federation. “For us, this appointment is one of several you have given to our sons and daughters in recent times. It is an indication of how much you love us a state and as a people.”

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/11/buhari-swears-onnoghen-acting-cjn-tasks-judiciary-corruption/

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