The National Judicial Council (NJC) has given Justice Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria and Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, the acting Chief Justice, seven days to respond to a petition filed against them. This was the major decision taken by the Council during its emergency meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
Soyi Oye, the NJC director of information, in a statement after the meeting, said the meeting deliberated and considered four petitions. He said these are a petition against Onnoghen by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education; two petitions against Muhammad by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative, and Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; and a petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.
“Council referred the petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) which is the appropriate constitutional body empowered to deal with it.
“In line with its procedure, Council also forwarded the petitions against Hon. Justices W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON and I. T. Muhammad, CFR to them for their responses.
“In view of the gravity of the matters involved, Council abridged the usual response period from fourteen (14) to seven (7) working days for the Hon. Justices to respond.
Oye stated that both Onnoghen and Muhammad recused themselves from the meeting and consequently the Council elected Umaru Abdullahi, former President of the Court of Appeal, as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting.
The NJC will reconvene on the 11th February, 2019 2019 to discuss discuss the responses of Onnoghen and Muhammad and take further actions against the nation’s top two judicial officers.
But for Umar, his fate will be largely decided by the FJSC, his employer, will treat the petition and refer it to NJC for action is there is a substance to it.
Onnoghen was suspended on Friday, by President Muhammadu Buhari, who acted on an order issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). Onnoghen was accused of non-declaration of assets and is being tried by the CCT.
Ibrahim Muhammad, was sworn in as the acting CJN on Friday. The petitions against him was that he made himself available to be sworn in as acting CJN without the approval of the NJC. ffffffffff