Buhari Appoints New Acting Chief Justice Of Supreme Court

By Ikenga Chronicles November 10, 2016

The uncertainty surrounding succession to the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) has persisted even as the Presidency said Wednesday that an acting CJN would be sworn in today by President Muhammadu Buhari The president’s failure to appoint a replacement for Justice Mahmud Mohammed, whose tenure lapsed, had threatened to create a leadership vacuum in the judiciary.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Shehu Garba, disclosed that there was no prospect for confusion as the president would inaugurate an acting CJN later today.

“An acting CJN will be sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari at 2.00 pm Thursday,” he stated in a text message, adding that he had no information about who would be appointed into the office.

“The Attorney-General of the Federation will present the person to the president tomorrow for swearing-in,” he said.

A reliable source, revealed that the most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Walter Onnoghen, might be the choice of the president in line with Section 230 (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which provides: “If the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the president shall appoint the most senior justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.”

By virtue of Section 231 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, it is the prerogative of the ‎president to appoint a CJN.

Section 231 (1) explicitly provides: “The appointment of a person to the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of such appointment by the Senate.”

At its emergency meeting held on 11 October, 2016, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended Justice Onnoghen, being the most senior justice of the Supreme Court, for consideration for appointment as CJN.

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