(Updated) Suspended CJN Onnoghen Resigns

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By Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Alex Anumah in Abuja

Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has tendered his resignation as CJN, according to a member of his legal team.

Though his resignation has not been announced officially, one of his counsels, who said he was not authorised by Onnoghen to speak to the press on the issue, confirmed this to our correspondent.

However speaking to THISDAY on the issue, Director, Information, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Festus Akande, said he was not aware of the resignation of the CJN and dismissed it as a mere rumour.

Akande who said he was currently in Enugu for the burial of late Justice Chukwuma Eneh said to his knowledge the report was just a rumour.

“As at the time I left the office yesterday(Thursday), there was nothing like that. And I have called the office after the news broke, there is nothing like that,” he said.

He however promised to get in touch if there was any information to the contrary.

Similarly, the Director Information, National Judicial Council (NJC), Soji Oye, in a telephone conversation said he could not confirm the report but believes it is a rumour.

If his resignation is confirmed officially, by virtue of section 306 of the 1999 constitution, it will take immediate effect.

Section 306 says “ (1) Save as otherwise provided in this section, any person who is appointed, elected or otherwise selected to any office established by this Constitution may resign from that office by writing under his hand addressed to the authority or person by whom he was appointed, elected or selected. (2) The resignation of any person from any office established by this Constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorised by that authority or person to receive it.”

Onnoghen is currently being prosecuted by the Federal government on a six count charge bordering on failure to declare some of his assets in line with the provisions of the law for public officers.

He was specifically accused of not declaring five of his accounts in Standard Chartered Bank located in Wuse Abuja.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal where Onnoghen is being prosecuted on the non asset declaration charges had on April 3 adjourned till April 15 for parties to adopt their final written addresses as well as to fix a date for Judgment and ruling on other pending applications.

Onnoghen was suspended as CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, ten days after his trial commenced at the CCT, on the orders of the Tribunal.

The suspension order was sequel to an ex parte application by the federal government which prayed the CCT to suspend Onnoghen pending the determination of the trial.

The Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, in granting the ex parte motion also ordered President Buhari to swear in the most senior to Onnoghen in the Supreme Court, Justice Tanko Muhammad, as Acting CJN.

Though the report of the NJC on the petition against Onnoghen was yet to be made public, it was believed that part of the recommendation made to the president is the compulsory retirement of Onnoghen as CJN.