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More jurists criticise appointment of CJN in acting capacity

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Justice Walter Onnoghen

Justice Walter Onnoghen

More eminent jurists have flayed the appointment of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria in acting capacity by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), said Justice Onnoghen ought to have been appointed in substantive capacity. “It is just causing uncertainty because it went through a normal procedure,” he said.

Agbakoba however, noted that his appointment in acting capacity has “nothing to do with the dispensation of justice, since, even in acting capacity, he has the power of a CJN.” The point is that it creates uncertainty of whether he will be confirmed or not.

Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olu Daramola who described the development as strange, urged the acting CJN to ignore the intrigues and do his job irrespective of his acting position. “This is a strange development, because the process of his appointment is constitutional. Since the process is in line with the constitution, then he should not have been appointed in acting capacity”, he declared.

For Paul Ananaba (SAN), such development unsettles the office holder. He pointed out that such CJN may not settle down in three months for optimal performance.

He said: “The judiciary is not a sector where we should be having uncertainty. He needs to know when to leave the office. If for instance, he is not confirmed, the law did not permit a reappointment, another person has to come in and this is not the best for the judiciary.”

But former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Akin Olujimi (SAN), does not believe the development has any implication on the judiciary in any aspect.

Although he frowned at the development, he is of the view that the nation stands to lose nothing by the appointment.

“In actual fact, in law, he who acts, has all the powers of the substantive holder of that office and can operate without any restrictions whatsoever. So, it will never affect whatever reforms he has on mind,” he stated.

Earlier on October 11, the National Judicial Council (NJC) had forwarded the nomination of the most senior justice of the Supreme Court after Mahmud, Justice Onnoghen, to the president as stipulated by law.

Following NJC’s recommendation to President Buhari, he was expected to forward Onnoghen’s nomination to the Senate for screening and confirmation. For whatever reason however, Justice Onnoghen’s name has since not been sent to the National Assembly as at press time.



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