Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has raised the alarm over
possibility of preventing Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen from becoming
the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), saying his appointment
as Acting CJN was “either a grand plot to deprive him of his
well-deserved appointment as CJN because he is from the South-South
region or those cabals in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa want to hold
him in the jugular, using his confirmation as substantive CJN to get
him to assist them to pervert justice.”

In a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti by his Special Assistant on Public
Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said it
was strange that despite that the National Judicial Council (NJC)
recommended only Justice Onnoghen to President Muhammadu Buhari for
appointment as the CJN in line its rules, since October 13, 2018, his
name was not sent to the Senate for confirmation.

The governor said that this is the first time Nigeria is having an
acting CJN for the first time in its history despite that Justice
Onnoghen’s name was sent to President Muhammadu Buhari early enough.

He said; “As at the time the NJC recommended Justice Onnoghen to
President Buhari, it was 28 clear days to the November 10, 2016
retirement date of Justice Mahmud Mohammed.

“Why then was his (Justice Onnoghen) name not sent to the Senate for
confirmation? Why appointing him as Acting CJN when his name should
have been sent to the Senate between October 13, 2016 that he was
recommended to the president and November 10, 2016 that Justice Mahmud
Mohammed retired?

“Obviously, there is more to this acting CJN appointment than meet the
eyes and in my opinion, it could be that President Buhari never wanted
Justice Onnoghen as a substantive CJN because he is from the
South-South or that they want to use his pending appointment as
substantive CJN to make him do their biddings.”

He lamented that “They have subdued the national assembly and are now
in the last stage of muscling democracy by subduing the judiciary.

“If men of good conscience, especially leading lights in the legal
profession refuse to raise their voices against this tyranny, they
will all be consumed by the tyrant.”

Governor Fayose, who said playing politics with the judiciary,
especially at the CJN level was dangerous to the survival of
democracy, urged Justice Onnoghen to do his job without fear or
favour, “bearing in mind that it is only God that put people in
positions.”

“I am sure those who made sure Justice Onnoghen’s name was not sent to
the Senate for confirmation until the tenure of Justice Mahmud
Mohammed expired knew what they were doing. They obviously needed a
situation where the CJN, being in acting capacity will be subservient
to them, using his appointment as substantive CJN as bait.

“However, Justice Onnoghen must live above that temptation of wanting
to be the substantive CJN at the expense of strict adherence to the
rule of law and principles of democracy.

“He must resist any attempt to further gag the judiciary even if that
will cost him his appointment as the substantive CJN,” the governor
said.


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