Onnoghen, Muhammad to Know Fate Soon as NJC Sends Report to Buhari

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Onnoghen and Muhammad

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The fate of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, and that of the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, will be known soon as the National Judicial Council (NJC) on Wednesday met in Abuja to decide on the report of the 5-man Committee set up to investigate petitions against them.

A statement by the Director of Information, NJC, Soji Oye said the body reconvened Wednesday to consider the Report of the Five-Man Committee constituted to investigate the allegations leveled against the two most senior judicial Officers.

According to the statement, while the council refrained from taking any decision on the issue of asset declaration charges on the grounds that the issue is currently in court, the NJC however reached a decision on the petition of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others.

Oye however disclosed that the NJC had conveyed its decison to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“NJC decides on the Report of the Five-Man Committee set up to investigate petitions against Justice Onnoghen and Justice Muhammad.

“The National Judicial Council reconvened today in an Emergency Meeting to consider the Report of the Five-Man Committee constituted to investigate the allegations of misconduct made against Justices Onnoghen and Muhammad.
Council decided that the allegations relating to assets declaration that were levelled against Justice were subjudice and therefore abstained from considering them.

“Council reached a decision on the petitions written by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others and conveyed its decision to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Council also resolved that, by the nature of the decision reached, it would be inappropriate to publicise it before conveying it to Mr. President”.

Recall that the NJC had in January given both Onnoghen and Muhammad seven days to respond to various petitions written against them.

The directive was part of decison the body made at it’s emergency meeting in Abuja held on January 29,2019 to look into the issue of the suspension of Onnoghen.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on January 25, 2019, based on an alleged exparte order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) suspended Onnoghen as CJN and Chairman of the NJC.

Buhari, subsequently swore in Justice Tanko Muhammad as Acting CJN to pilot the affairs of the Supreme Court in the interim.

The action which attracted global concern as well as protest by various groups in the country, resulted in various petitions seeking the intervention of the NJC in the matter.

While both Onnoghen and Muhammad were not in attendance as they recused themselves from the meeting, a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, was elected to preside as Interim Chairman.

It was disclosed that the council at the January 29 meeting considered 4 petitions in all; one against Onnoghen, two against Muhammad and the other against the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar.

The petition against Onnoghen, was by one Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education; while the two against Muhammad, were by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative and Olisa Agbakoba, and that against Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, was by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.