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Crisis in Judiciary: NJC queries Onnoghen, Mohammed; Gives 7 days deadline for replies; Justice Umaru Abdullahi chairs meeting

CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen
Justice Muhammed

The National Judicial Council, NJC, of Nigeria, at the end of its emergency meeting of Tuesday, January 29, 2019,  has issued queries to the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter. S. Onnoghen, who was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari in controversial circumstances and the man who was sworn in to act in his capacity, Justice I. T. Muhammed.

The queries are in response to petitions filed to the Secretariat of the Council against the judicial officers.

They are expected to respond to the petitions within seven working days.

The Council, however, referred the petition against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

Because both Justice Onnoghen and Muhammed, understandably, recused themselves from chairing the meeting,  a statement by Soji Oye, Esq. Director (Information, said that “Council elected Hon. Mr. Justice Umaru Abdullahi, CON, former President of the Court of Appeal as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting,” which is expected to reconvene  on February 11, 2019.

Full text of the statement reads:

NJC ends Emergency Meeting
Gives Hon. Mr. Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR seven (7) working days to respond to petitions.
Refers petition against CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
To reconvene on 11th February, 2019.

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.

Soji Oye, Esq.
Director (Information)

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