Suspension: Supreme Court to Decide Onnoghen’s Fate May 17

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Walter Onnoghen

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court will on May 17 take a decision on the legality or otherwise of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The Apex Court fixed the date for Judgment on Thursday in Abuja, after listening to the submissions of counsel in the suit filed by the Cross River State government.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on January 25, suspended Onnoghen as CJN and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), pending the determination of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

However, the Cross River State Government in challenging the action of the President, approached the Apex Court to set aside the suspension of Onnoghen.

At Thursday’s proceedings, counsel to the Cross River State government, Lucius Nwosu (SAN), contended that Onnoghen’s suspension or removal from office by President Muhammadu Buhari, based on an ex-parte order by a lay magistrate (the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal) violates the Constition, particularly Section 292(1).

On his part, Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, who represented the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation), submitted that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to approach the Supreme Court on the issue, on the grounds that Onnoghen’s suspension was personal to him and cannot be interpreted to amount to a dispute between the Federal Government and the Cross River State Government.

In a short ruling Thursday, a seven-man panel of the court, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour announced that Judgment in the suit had been reserved for May 17.

Details later.