Lawyer sues Buhari, others over non-confirmation of acting CJN

Justice Walter Onnoghen

Justice Walter Onnoghen

A lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, has filed a suit before a Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging the constitutionality of President Muhammadu Buhari’s inability to transmit the name of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria to the National Assembly for confirmation.

Mention as defendants in the suit are the president, the Attorney General of the federation, Federal judicial Commission, Justice Walter Onnoghen and National judicial Commission.

In his written address,  the plaintiff is praying the court for the determination of whether by virtue of Section 231 (1) of the 1999 constitution, the president in exercising his powers to appoint the CJN must act on the recommendation of the NJC.

The plaintiff is also challenging the unnecessary interference by the president in the internal workings of the NJC, which the plaintiff stated as unbecoming to the extent that the Judiciary is no longer independent.

He also claimed that the president had not only ensured that the Judiciary does not have a substantive CJN but also have instilled fear in the members of the judiciary for fear of their safety, harassment, intimidation and arrest.

The plaintiff also seeks to know whether the qualification, assessment and evaluation necessary for the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria are the exclusive preserve of the 3rd and 5th defendants.

He also wants to know if by virtue of Section 231 (3), if the president as the head of executive arm of government can hand pick and choose who he wants to be the head of the judicial arm of Nigerian government.

The plaintiff is therefore, seeking an order of mandamus compelling the president to act on the recommendation of the NJC by appointing the 4th defendant as the substantive CJN and also transmit same to the Senate for consideration and confirmation.

The plaintiff is also seeking an order compelling the president to uphold the principle of separation of power and the rule of law.

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