The Federal Government has approached the the Code of Conduct Tribunal to facilitate the removal of Justice Walter Onnoghen, both as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the chairman of the National Judicial Council.
The motion was reportedly filed by Musa Ibrahim and Fatima Danjuma Ali on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation on Thursday.
According to government sources, the move is aimed at ensuring that Onnoghen is not a judge in his case and that the next most senior judicial officer, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, becomes takes his place as the acting CJN until the conclusion of the case.
The suit is seeking the court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to name the next most senior judge as the acting CJN and chairman of the NJC.
The motion on notice was brought in pursuance of Section 6(6) Paragraph 11 (1) of the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The Federal Government prayed the tribunal for an interlocutory order “directing the defendant/respondent to step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and chairman of the National Judicial Council over an allegation of contravening the provision of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 pending the determination of the case.
“An interlocutory order of the honourable tribunal directing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to take all necessary measures to swear in the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court as an acting Chief Justice and chairman of the National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the case.”
Justice Muhammad was born on December 31, 1953 at Doguwa – Giade, a local government area in Bauchi State. He attended Ahmadu Bello University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Law in 1980.
He went on to obtain a master’s degree and doctorate from the same university in 1984 and 1998 respectively.
The fresh moves by the Federal Government came less than a week after the National Industrial Court, Abuja, restrained the Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, the AGF, the Code of Conduct Bureau and the police from removing Onnoghen.
This judgement was made in favour of a motion ex-parte filed by a lawyer, Mr Peter Abang.