Buhari’s counsel absent as hearing of suit over Onnoghen begins

Onnoghen Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday began trial of a public interest suit initiated by human rights crusader, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to to activate the process of appointing Justice Nkanu Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Other respondents in the suit marked as FHC/ABJ/CS/1019/16, are Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), Justice Walter Onnoghen and the National Judicial Council (NJC).

When the matter came up before Justice John Tsoho, Thursday, only the NJC was represented, while others were absent even though they were served with the originating summons.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Mrs. Chinwe Okpala, confirmed to the court that all the defendants had been served and wondered why the other four were not in court.

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The counsel therefore asked for an adjournment.

Consequently, Justice Tsoho granted the adjournment and fixed March 7, 2017 for hearing.

In the suit, the plaintiff, suing for himself and on behalf of Nigerians, Omirhobo asked the court to give interpretation to Section 231(1), (3), (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Omirhobo, a legal practitioner based in Lagos, is asking the court to declare that the judicial arm is not an appendage of the executive arm of government and that by virtue of Section 231 of the Constitution, the President must act on the recommendation of the NJC to appoint the CJN, among other reliefs.

In a related development, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose on Thursday commended the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for sending the name of Justice Walter Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

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Fayose said the action has saved the judiciary in particular and Nigeria in general from unnecessary tension.

He also wished President Muhammadu Buhari well and urged Nigerians to pray for his quick recovery so he can return to office and solve myriad of economic challenges facing the country.