The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has pleaded with Nigerians to give President Muhammadu Buhari a “free hand” in appointing the next substantive Chief Justice.
Mr. Onnoghen made the appeal in a statement by his media aide, Awassam Bassey, who said that the general public should allow the president exercise his “constitutional duties”.
The President has been widely criticized for not submitting Mr. Onnoghen’s name to Senate for confirmation as Substantive Chief Justice, after nearly 3 months since he was appointed as Acting CJN following recommendation by the National Judicial Council, NJC.
According to a constitutional provision, when an Acting Chief Justice’s name is not sent to the Senate for confirmation after 3 months, the President might not be able to submit the name to the lawmakers again.
Following pressure from all sides condemning the President for not submitting Mr. Onnoghen’s name, the Acting CJN himself have now appealed to “Nigerians to allow Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, a free hand to perform his constitutional duties concerning the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria,” his spokesperson was quoted.
“Honourable Justice Onnoghen believes the president does not need any threat or ultimatum to perform his constitutional duties and therefore dissociates himself from those individuals and groups making such demands on the president.
“However, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Nigerian Judiciary sincerely appreciate the interest of Nigerians towards the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria to oversee the affairs of the Judiciary as the third arm of government, but believes that issuing an ultimatum to Mr. President appears to be going too far and smacks of disrespect for the exalted office of the president.
“The Acting Chief Justice therefore appeals for caution on the issue of the appointment of Chief Justice of Nigeria as Mr President goes about his constitutional duties, especially considering the fact that the given time for him to act as Chief Justice of Nigeria has not expired.
“In conclusion, the Acting Chief Justice wishes to thank all Nigerians for their support and continued prayers while calling on them to back the Federal Government in the fight to make the country a better place for all.”