Details Of NJC Recommendation To Buhari on CJN Onnoghen issue

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The National Judicial Commission (NJC) has recommended Justice Walter Onnoghen, the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), for compulsory retirement,

The recommendation came at the end of a meeting of the NJC leadership as earlier reported that the NJC met on Wednesday to review several charges preferred against the suspended CJN, Onnoghen.

After deliberating on the petition filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), members of the NJC unanimously agreed that “Onnoghen has lost the moral authority to continue as CJN with the litany of allegations bordering on misconduct.”

However, revealed that the NJC urged the President to allow Justice Onnoghen retain his seat as a former CJN in the Council of State.

The council also recommended that the CJN should be retired with full benefits.

The EFCC had accused Justice Onnoghen of being unable to account for “curious deposits” in his accounts.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the deposits had accumulated to $1,716, 000 as at today.

The NJC is the body vested with the legal power to handle disciplinary issues of judicial officers in the country.

The body sat under the interim leadership of Umaru Abdullahi, a former President of the Court of Appeal, who had to act since Onnoghen was under suspension.

On Acting CJN Tanko Muhammed, the council concluded that he did not commit any offence by making himself available to be sworn in as acting CJN without the recommendation of the NJC.

The recommendations have been passed to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval.

Soji Oye, the NJC’s Director of Information, also collaborated this when he spoke with newsmen at the end of the meeting.

However, for the CJN to be retired as recommended by the NJC, the President still has to seek the approval of the Senate.

This will require two-thirds majority of the upper legislative or red chamber.

This is in accordance with Section 292 (1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), which says a “judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances – (a) in the case of – (i) Chief Justice of Nigeria… by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.”

Recall that Onnoghen is also undergoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over allegations of false asset declaration. If found guilty, the CJN risk being removed from office.

It will be recalled that President Buhari on January 25, 2019 suspended Onnoghen following an order made by the CCT.

It all started following a petition by the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), a civil society group, which launched the legal move to remove Onnoghen.

The group had filed a petition against him at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over alleged false declaration of assets.

It had listed a number of allegations against Onnoghen, which include alleged false declaration of assets.

The CCB is empowered by the constitution to investigate public officers, after which it would forward its findings to the appropriate body for trial if the allegations are confirmed.

 

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