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CJN: Court To Hear Suit Against Justice Muhammad’s Appointment

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, has given its nod to a fresh suit seeking to stop President Muhammadu Buhari, from appointing the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to take over the leadership of the judiciary in a substantive capacity.

The case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2019, is praying the court to declare that Justice Muhammad, is unfit to replace the sacked CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The plaintiff in the suit, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, also a lawyer, is praying the court to declare that the Acting CJN, having made himself available as a tool that was used in the violation of the Constitution, especially with regards to the “illegal” removal of the former CJN, is therefore not a proper and fit person to be recommended for appointment to head the judiciary.

According to him, Justice Mohammad conducted himself in a manner that reduced the confidence of the public in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.

Defendants in the matter are  National Judicial Council, NJC, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC, the Acting CJN, the Federal Government of Nigeria, President Muhammadu 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, is a shared responsibility of the 1st Defendant (NJC), the 5th defendant (Buhari) and 7th Defendant (National Assembly). He argued that President Buhari lacked the constitutional powers to unilaterally suspend and/or remove a sitting CJN from office, as was done in the case of Onnoghen.

He prayed the court to declare that by combined interpretation sections 1(1 )(2), 231(4), 292(1)(a)(i)(b), 153(1)(i), 158(1) and paragraph 21 (a)(b) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, “it is unlawful and undemocratic for the 4th and 5th Defendants (Federal Government and President Buhari), to declare the office of the CJN vacant on January 25, 2019 and consequently appoint and swear in the 3rd Defendant as the acting CJN”.

He, therefore, applied for a court order to restrain the National Assembly from confirming any appointment of Justice Muhammad as the substantive CJN.

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