The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has okayed a fresh suit seeking to bar President Muhammadu Buhari from appointing the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to take over the leadership of the judiciary in substantive capacity.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2019, is praying the court to declare that Justice Muhammad who is currently the most senior jurist at the Supreme Court, is unfit to replace the sacked CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Specifically, the plaintiff, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, who is a human rights lawyer, is praying the court to declare that the Acting CJN, Justice Muhammad, having made himself available as a tool that was used in the violation of the Constitution, especially with regards to the “illegal” removal of the former CJN, is therefore not a proper and fit person to be recommended for appointment to head the judiciary.
It is the contention of the plaintiff that the Acting CJN conducted himself in a manner that reduced the confidence of the public in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.
He argued that President Buhari lacked the constitutional powers to unilaterally suspend and/or remove a sitting CJN from office, as was done in the case of Onnoghen.
Aside praying the court to bar President Buhari from appointing Justice Muhammad as the substantive CJN, the Plaintiff, in a 65-paragraph affidavit he filed in support of the suit, stressed that unless restrained by the court, the Executive Arm of Government would continue to violate the extant provisions of the Constitution and sanctity of the judiciary.
Meantime, the suit which has already been assigned to Justice Iyang Ekwo for hearing, is coming barely 72 hours after the NJC disclosed that it had approved the extension of Justice Muhammad’s tenure as the Acting CJN.