A foremost legal luminary known as Malcom Omirhobo has issued a law suit before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja seeking a court order to prevent the appointment of Justice Tanko Muhammad, the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria as the substantive CJN.
The plaintiff disclosed that Justice Muhammad present himself as a tool used to violate the Constitution, with regard to the “illegal”removal of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspend Justice onnoghen and sworn in Muhammad as the acting CJN in January.
The President after seeking approval of the National Judicial Council last week extended the tenure of Justice in acting capacity for the next three months.
The plaintiff in the law suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2019 with the actions of Muhammad in the alleged removal of Onnoghen as the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhamamad who is presently the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was not fit to replace the dismissed Chief Justice of Nigeria.
He argued that the acting CJN presented himself in a way that made the citizen to reduce confidence in the sanctity, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary arm of government.
The plaintiff disclosed that Justice Muhammad
“is therefore not a proper and fit person to be recommended for appointment to head the judiciary.
Sued as the 1st to the 7th defendants in the suit are NJC, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the acting CJN, the Federal Government of Nigeria, President Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the National Assembly.
The plaintiff, among other things, urged the court to declare that the suspension and/or removal of a CJN from office, was a shared responsibility of the 1st defendant (NJC), 5th defendant (Buhari) and 7th Defendant (National Assembly).
In his argument he disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t have the powers according to he constitution to unilaterally suspend and/or removal Justice Onnoghen being a sitting CJN.
He also ask the court to issue an order restraining the country’s parliament known as the National Assembly from confirming Justice Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
While also praying that the court should prevent the president from appointing the acting CJN in substantive capacity.
He disclosed that except the court issue an order the executive arm of government led by President Buhari would
“continue to violate the extant provisions of the Constitution and sanctity of the judiciary” the suit will be hear by Justice Iyang Ekwo.
Below is the copy of the petition that led to the removal of Justice Onnoghen.
PETITION ON SUSPECTED FINANCIAL CRIMES AND BREACHES OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT BUREAU REQUIREMENTS AGAINST HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE W. S. NKANU ONNOGHEN, GCON, THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA
We write to bring to your attention serious concerns bothering on flagrant violations of the law and the Constitution of Nigeria by the Honourable Mr. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Specifically, we are distressed that facts on the ground indicate the leader of our country’s judicial branch is embroiled in suspected financial crimes and breaches of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
The particulars of our findings indicate that:
His Lordship Justice Walter Onnoghen is the owner of sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself, up to as recently as 10th August 2016 which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.
To give specific examples, here are some instances of cash deposits by Justice Onnoghen:
Justice Onnoghen made five different cash deposits of $10,000 each on 8th March 2011 into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650;
On 7th June 2011, two separate cash deposits of $5000 each were made by Justice Walter Onnoghen, followed by four cash deposits of $10,000 each;
On 27th June 2011, Justice Onnoghen made another set of five separate cash deposits of $10,000 each and made four more cash deposits of $10,000 each on the following day, 28th June 2011;
Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen did not declare his assets immediately after taking office, contrary to Section 15 (1) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act;
Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen did not comply with the constitutional requirement for public servants to declare their assets every four years during their career;
The Code of Conduct Bureau Forms (Form CCB 1) of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen for 2014 and 2016 were dated and filed on the same day. The acknowledgement slip for Declarant SCN: 000014 was issued on 14th December 2016. The acknowledgement slip for Declarant SCN: 000015 was also issued on 14th December 2016, at which point Justice Onnoghen had become the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The affidavit for SCN: 000014 was sworn to on 14th December 2016;
The affidavit for SCN: 000015 was sworn to on 14th December 2016;
Both forms were received on 14th December 2016 by one Awwal Usman Yakasai.
The discrepancy between Justice Walter Onnoghen’s two CCB forms that were filed on the same day is significant.
In filling the section on Details of Assets, particularly Cash, in Nigerian Banks, His Lordship as Declarant SCN: 000014 mentioned only two bank accounts:
Union Bank account number 0021464934 in Abuja, with balance of N9,536,407, as at 14th November 2014.
Union Bank account number 0012783291 in Calabar, with balance of N11, 456,311 as at 14th November 2014.
The sources of the funds in these accounts are stated as salaries, estacodes and allowances.
As Declarant SCN: 000015 His Lordship however lists seven bank accounts:
Standard Chartered account 00001062667, with balance of N3,221,807.05 as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered account 00001062650, with balance of $164,804.82, as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered account 5001062686, with balance of EUROS 55,154.56, as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered Bank account 5001062679 with balance of GBP108,352.2, as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered Bank account 5001062693 with balance of N8,131,195.27, as at 14th November 2016.
Union Bank account 00021464934 with balance of N23,261,568.89, as at 14th November 2016.
Union Bank account 0012783291 with balance of N14,695,029.12, as at 14th November 2016.
The foreign currency Standard Chartered Bank accounts that were declared by Declarant SCN: 000015 have been in existence since at least 2011.
SOURCE: PUNCH,PREMIUM TIMES.
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