The Nigerians highest judicial regulatory body, the National Judicial Council (NJC) on Tuesday gave the Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed seven days to respond to the petitions against them.
Rising from their emergency meeting, the council also referred the petition against Code of Conduct Tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend suspended Onnoghen from office, after serious allegations of financial fraud petitions against him to Code of conduct bureau, showing Justice Onnoghen having several domicilary accounts in foreign curencies. President Buhari inline with his zero tolerance for corruption immediately swore in Justice Mohammed as acting Chief Justice, leading to protest from a section of the bench. President Buhari said he acted on an order issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The suspended Chief Justice was accused of not updating his assets in the assets declaration form provided by the CCB.
Justice Muhammad was also given seven days to respond to a petition against him over an alleged breach of NJC rules. He was accused of making himself available to be sworn in as acting CJN without the approval of the NJC.
￼The body referred a petition written against Danladi Umar, the CCT) chairman, to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
The FJSC, his employer, will treat the petition and refer it to NJC for action if there is a substance to it.
NJC will now reconvene on February 11, 2019 to discuss further actions against the nation’s top two judicial officers.
The emergency meeting was presided over by Umaru Abdullahi, former president of the court of appeal, following the absence of both Onnoghen and Muhammad who are in the eye of the storm.
Mr Soji Oye, the NJC director of information, issued a statement after the meeting.
Below is the full statement:
He said: “The National Judicial Council held an Emergency Meeting today and considered four (4) petitions filed at its Secretariat. The petitions are: Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education; Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative; Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, OON; and 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.
“Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR recused themselves from the meeting. Consequently, Council elected Hon. Mr. Justice Umaru Abdullahi, CON, former President of the Court of Appeal as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting.
“Council will reconvene on the 11th February, 2019.”
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