Alex Enumah in Abuja
The name of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has been removed from the list of members of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on its official website.
A visit to the official website of the NJC revealed that both Onnoghen’s name and image have been replaced with that of the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
The NJC last Thursday approved the extension of the appointment of Justice Muhammad for another three months in response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request.
Onnoghen and Muhammad were in late January this year suspended as members of NJC, pending the hearing and determination of various petitions against them.
Onnoghen’s petition borders on allegations of corruption, while Muhammad was accused of accepting the position of Acting CJN, without being recommended by the NJC.
However, while the council said it found no wrongdoing by Justice Muhammad, and accordingly recommended him to President Buhari as Acting CJN, it recommended the compulsory retirement of Onnoghen based on its findings from the petition against the former CJN by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Onnoghen had on April 4, 2019, sent his notice of retirement to President Buhari, but was however, convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on April 18.
Onnoghen was convicted on all six-count charge of false and non-declaration of assets.
The tribunal in passing its sentence, ordered the removal of Onnoghen as CJN and chairman of NJC.
He was also barred from holding public office for 10 years for contravening the CCB laws in his Assets Declaration Form.
The position of the deputy chairman of the council is still yet unfilled, but according to law, the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, is expected to be appointed at the NJC’s next meeting.
The current 23-man member list of the NJC includes Acting Chairman of the Council, Justice Muhammad; President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Z.A. Bulkachuwa; retired Justice of the Supreme Court and former chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola; retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sunday Akintan; and former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi; retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice, V.O.A Omage.
Others are the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati; President, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Babatunde Adejumo; Chief Judge, High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello.
The Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abiola; Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah; Chief Judge of Imo State, Pascal Nnadi; Chief Judge of Delta State, Marshal Umukoro are also on the list.
Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kwara State, Grand Kadi Mohammed Abdulkadir; and President, Customary Court of Appeal, Plateau State, Justice Julia Kyentu; President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN); former NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN); NBA member, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN); NBA member. Damien Dodo (SAN) and another NBA member, Efe Etomi, are also members.
The remaining include, a retired public servant, Mrs Rakiya Ibrahim; a retired Permanent Secretary, Mrs R.I Inga, and Secretary to the council, Ahmed Gambo Saleh.