Afenifere gives Buhari ultimatum on Onnoghen
• Lawyer sues FG over acting CJN’s appointment
The pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has given President Muhammadu Buhari a nine-day ultimatum to forward the name of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Nkanu Onnoghen to the Senate for approval.
At its meeting held in the house of the leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti yesterday in Akure, Ondo State, Afenifere also asked the Federal Government to constitute a committee that will restructure the country.
The position of Afenifere has intensified the call for the confirmation of Onnoghen before his acting period expires.
According to Afenifere, the unity of the race must be paramount irrespective of religious inclination, political affiliation and social background.
After over five hours of meeting, the group called for the implementation of the report of the 2014 National Conference to tackle the problems threatening the existence of the country.
Reading the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, Afenifere spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the Yoruba leaders were displeased with the government’s refusal to send the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the National Assembly for confirmation.
Afenifere which lamented that the three months of acting capacity of Onnoghen, as allowed by the constitution, is about to expire, urged Buhari to comply with the recommendation despite the few days left for his tenure to expire.
“We see this as an assault on the constitution if the three months expire and he is not confirmed as CJN of Nigeria. It will be an assault on our constitution and an attempt to crudely end a career of a worthy Nigerian.
“Therefore we call on Mr. President to within the few days left to the expiration of the acting tenure of Justice Onnoghen send his name to the Senate for confirmation as Nigeria CJN, as he is the man in line because that is what the constitution says.”
Afenifere also expressed worry about the mass killing in southern Kaduna, Middle Belt communities, Igboland, Oke-Ogun in Oyo State and other parts of the country where there were clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
Odumakin said: “The meeting was elated that the Yoruba have closed ranks as witnessed in the historic gathering which represents a new beginning for the race.
“It is high time the Yoruba nation put aside partisan differences and come together and make Yoruba land and redirect the affairs of Nigeria the way the Yoruba did in the years before independence, when we worked with our friends in Nigeria to negotiate the federal constitution which brought our independence.
“The meeting observed that the state of Nigeria at the moment is very frightening and worrying and uncertainty looms in the air.
“We are worried about the mass killing going on in southern Kaduna and all over Nigeria, and the states appeared to be helpless and sometimes unwilling to curb the excess of these killers.”
Alluding to President Buhari, who is currently in a foreign country for medical treatment, Afenifere emphasised that “Nigeria today lies prostrate in the intensive care of sick countries because we have refused to run Nigeria, the multi-ethnic state, along federal lines.”
The socio-political group resolved to set up a committee to rouse the Yoruba nation and to network with its friends and like-minds across Nigeria to make the country work.
“This country must be restructured before we go for another election because we cannot afford to continue to slide dangerously on the part of anarchy.
“The main focus is to get all hands on deck for the mobilisation towards the implementation of the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference which was submitted to the Federal Executive Council, that is the minimum we demand,” the group said.
Also yesterday, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, sued President Buhari, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, praying for an order to preserve the office of the CJN.
Other respondents in the suit are the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), the Senate, the NJC, Onnoghen and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The plaintiff is asking the court to direct the president, and in his absence the vice-president, to forward the name of Justice Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as the CJN.
He is also asking for an order of injunction to restrain the president and the vice-president from appointing another candidate for presentation to the Senate, for the office of the CJN, apart from Justice Onnoghen, who is the most senior justice of the Supreme Court and who has already been selected and recommended by the NJC.
In addition, the plaintiff wants the court to stop the Senate from accepting, entertaining, deliberating upon or considering the nomination of any other candidate that may be forwarded to it by the president and the vice-president, apart from Onnoghen.
Adegboruwa also prayed the court to direct Onnoghen to assume and take over and be performing and discharging the duties and functions of the office of the CJN, until such a time that the president would agree to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation or until he retires at the mandatory age of 70 years.
Adegboruwa accused President Buhari of bias against the judiciary which he had allegedly declared as his headache, stressing that the president is deliberately withholding the appointment of Justice Onnoghen in order to destabilise the judiciary and to force him into compulsory retirement, being a Christian from the southern part of Nigeria.
The lawyer accused the president of a hidden agenda to perpetrate civilian dictatorship and to implement his ethnic and religious agenda, by frustrating the first CJN from the south in the past 30 years.
He accused the vice-president of failing to act decisively as he did with the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) acting chairman, whose nomination he forwarded to the Senate in the absence of the president.
No hearing date has been fixed for the suit.