Why Onnoghen may not be substantive CJN, by Fayose
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has raised the alarm that Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen may not be allowed to become the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
According to Fayose, Justice Onnoghen’s appointment in acting capacity is “either a grand plot to deprive him of his well-deserved appointment as CJN because he is from the South-South region or those cabals in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa want to hold him in the jugular, using his confirmation as substantive CJN to get him to assist them to pervert justice.”
In a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said it was strange that despite the fact that the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended only Justice Onnoghen to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment as the CJN since October 13, 2016, his name was not sent to the Senate for confirmation.
According to him, this is the first time Nigeria is having an acting CJN despite that Justice Onnoghen’s name was sent to President Buhari early enough.
“As at the time the NJC recommended Justice Onnoghen to President Buhari, it was 28 clear days to the November 10, 2016 retirement date of Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
“Why then was his (Justice Onnoghen) name not sent to the Senate for confirmation? Why appointing him as Acting CJN when his name should have been sent to the Senate between October 13, 2016 that he was recommended to the president and November 10, 2016 that Justice Mahmud Mohammed retired?
“Obviously, there is more to this acting CJN appointment than meets the eyes. In my opinion, it could be that President Buhari never wanted Justice Onnoghen as a substantive CJN because he is from the South-South or that they want to use his pending appointment as substantive CJN to make him do their biddings.
“They have subdued the National Assembly and are now in the last stage of muscling democracy by subduing the judiciary.“If men of good conscience, especially leading lights in the legal profession refuse to raise their voices against this tyranny, they will all be consumed.”
Fayose, who said playing politics with the judiciary, especially at the CJN level, was dangerous to the survival of democracy, urged Justice Onnoghen to do his job without fear or favour, “bearing in mind that it is only God that puts people in positions.”
“I am sure those who made sure Onnoghen’s name was not sent to the Senate for confirmation until the tenure of Justice Mahmud Mohammed expired knew what they were doing. They obviously needed a situation where the CJN, being in acting capacity will be subservient to them, using his appointment as substantive CJN as bait.
“However, Justice Onnoghen must live above that temptation of wanting to be the substantive CJN at the expense of strict adherence to the rule of law and principles of democracy.
“He must resist any attempt to further gag the judiciary even if that will cost him his appointment as the substantive CJN,” the governor said.