Judiciary, presidency on collision course

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• Confirmation of CJN

By DICKSON OMONODE

By February 3, Supreme Court Justice W. S. Nkanu Onnoghen will be three months old acting as Nigeria’s chief justice. And a day after that, according to section 231, subsection 5 of Nigerian constitution, he may be eased out of the apex court. “Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council,” the subsection states in part.

Critics of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government believe the Aso Rock dilly-dallying over the appointment is a grand plan to shut the door of the topmost judicial office in the face of southerners.

Sources close to the council confirmed to the National Daily that while the presidency is getting uneasy about the delay, and may send Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation, there’s still a move to displace the 66-year-old acting CJN who comes from Rivers. The next most senior justice to him now is Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad.

Of the 14 past CJNs appointed between 1958 and 2014, four were from the southwest, eight from the north, and one, Justice Gabriel Ayo Irikefe, came from the south.

As the Supreme Court is currently constituted, seven of the 17-man court are from the north, four from the southwest, and six from the southeast and south-south.

Part of what makes many believe the presidency has a hidden agenda is that it took no long a time for the former CJN Mohammed Mamhoud to be appointed when his predecessor Justice Aloma Mukthar retired.

Onnoghen will be the first in about seven decades to have remained this long in acting capacity.

Past Chief Justices of Nigeria
Hon. Justice Stafford Foster Sutton (Past CJF)
Hon. Justice Adetokunbo Ademola KBE, GCON 1958 –
Hon. Justice Taslim Olawale Elias CFR, GCON 1972 –
Hon. Justice Darnley Arthur Alexander CBE,KCMG,CFR,GCON 1975 –
Hon. Justice AtandaFatai-Williams CON,GCON 1979 –
Hon. Justice George Sodeinde Sowemimo CON,GCON 1983 –
Hon. Justice Ayo Gabriel lrikefe OFR,CON,GCON 1985 –
Hon. Justice Muhammed Bello CON,GCON 1987 –
Hon. Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais CON,GCON 1995 –
Hon. Justice Salisu Modibo Alfa Belgore CON,GCON 2006 –
Hon. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi CON, GCON 2007 –
Hon. Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu CON, GCON 2010 –
Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher CON, CFR, FNIALS, GCON 2011 –
Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar JSC, CON, CFR, FNIALS, GCON 2012 –
Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed GCON 2014-

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