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NJC issues seven-day ultimatum to Onnoghen, acting CJN to respond to petitions

THE suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria has been issued a seven-day ultimatum by the National Judicial Council, NJC, to respond to a petition filed against him.

Onnoghen was suspended for non-declaration of assets by President Muhammadu Buhari who claimed he acted on the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad, was also asked to respond to a separate petition within seven days for allegedly contravening NJC rules.

He was accused of making himself available to be sworn in as acting CJN without the approval of the NJC.

The NJC stated in a communique released at the end of its emergency meeting on Tuesday that it received two petitions against Muhammad and one against Onnoghen. And a fourth petition was written against the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar.

The governing body of the judiciary referred the petition written against Danladi Umar, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) chairman, to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

The FJSC, under whom Umar is employed, will address the petition and refer it to NJC to take appropriate action.

NJC is due to reconvene on February 11, 2019, to discuss further actions against the country’s top legal luminaries.

The emergency meeting was presided over by Umaru Abdullahi, former president of the court of appeal, following the absence of both Onnoghen and Muhammad.

The NJC director of information, Soyi Oye, released the statement below after the meeting.

THE NJC’S RESOLUTION

“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

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