ACTING President Yemi Osinbajo has sworn-in the new Chief Justice of the Federation, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with a call on him to restore confidence in the judiciary. At a brief ceremony in the council chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, Osinbajo also honoured Onnoghen with the award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON. The acting president said since individuals were not forced to become judges, they would be held to a much higher moral and ethical standard than others. “The mere perception of judicial malfeasance poisons the waters of justice, let alone the reality, while delays in the administration of justice often defeat the ends of justice. “My Lord, you assumed this position at a crucial time in the history of our nation. “It is a time when all arms of government have suffered loss of confidence on the people of this nation and it is so also with our judiciary. “It is a time, when, my Lord and justices of our courts are called upon to resuscitate that confidence that the people of this nation want to have in the institutions of government and indeed in the judiciary. “I pray that your tenure will revive and sustain that confidence.” Osinbajo expressed the belief that the choice of CJN that Nigerians had made was the right one. He also expressed the hope that Onnoghen would live up to the expectations of the high office and prayed God to guide and direct him to deliver on the promises and expectations of Nigerians. The acting president conveyed the “personal warm wishes and congratulations” of President Muhammadu Buhari to the CJN and also congratulated members of his family and the entire judicial system. In his vote of assurance, Onnoghen recalled that he had earlier been sworn-in as Acting CJN. He said being made a substantive CJN was the climax of that event. Onnoghen, therefore, promised to keep to the oath of the office and called on the three arms of government to explore areas of cooperation to move the country forward. Onnoghen noted that the key to progress and every positive achievement in any democratic setting was adherence to the rule of law. “Here lies the solution to our problems to attain one fundamental principle and that is the independence of the judiciary. “Let us strive to maintain the independence of the judiciary so as to ensure the rule of law. “With the rule of law, when everybody realises that they are subject to the rule of law and that there are certain things that are taboos and are adhered to accordingly, it will be to the benefit of everyone of us,” he said. The CJN thanked the Senate and Nigerians of all religions, who had kept the faith in the country and had prayed for its sustenance. He, therefore, urged them not to relent in their prayers for the country and the judiciary. Onnoghen further called for the cooperation of all to enable him to succeed. In an interview, Senate President Bukola Saraki said he expected to see the independence of the judiciary with reforms in the system as well. Saraki said with time on the side of the CJN and commitment to the pledge he made, he would perform creditably. The Senate president added that many former CJNs had short stay in office, but Onnoghen, who is expected to last up to four years, would have no excuse to not perform and reform the system. He said while being screened, Onnoghen addressed the issue of perception, corruption, due process and other critical issues. “I am confident that he will deliver,” Saraki stated. He said the senate would cooperate with the judiciary to engender constitutional reviews that would assist the CJN in addressing issues in the justice system. Lawyer withdraws suit challenging non-confirmation Lawyer, Malcolm Omirhobo has withdrawn the suit he filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging the non-confirmation of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, stating that the suit had been overtaken by events. When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to Omirhobo, Mrs. Chinyere Okpala told the court that the prayers her client was asking for had been granted in part, and that although some of the prayers had been achieved, and prayed the court for a short adjournment to amend her originating summons to reflect the current realities. According to her, “We feel there are still issues to be addressed because the prayers have been answered in part for instance the issue of separation of powers.” Counsel to the National Judicial Commission, Y.M. Edeh, the fifth defendant in the matter, on his part prayed the court to dismiss and strike out the matter. Edeh said this was on the grounds that the matter had become hypothetical and an academic exercise since what they approached the court for had already been done. “I apply that the matter be struck out because for instance they are asking for a declaration of the court that by virtue of Section 331( 1) , that the President in appointing the Chief Judge of Nigeria , must act on the recommendations of the NJC. And that was exactly what the President did; also that as the head of the executive arm, he should not hand pick the head of the judiciary and he did not hand pick,” Edeh said. Justice John Tsoho said that unless there was a specific point on violation of powers, the issue of separation of powers raised by Okpala had been sufficiently taken care of by the constitution. He also noted that the specific prayer the suit was seeking was the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, adding that that had been taken care of. Tsoho said that he had expected that Omirhobo would from the onset of the matter apply to withdraw the suit since it had been overtaken by events and not seek to amend the prayers. According to the judge , if this was a classroom, “ then you can try to impress your students by arguing that the confirmation came late, but this is a court and we have other serious issues to attend to.” He therefore struck out the case, following the application of Okpala to withdraw the matter.


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