Onnoghen: Lawyer moves to stop Tanko Muhammad’s appointment as substantive CJN

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Human rights lawyer, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, has filed an action at the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking the court to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from appointing the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Muhammad Tanko as substantive CJN.

Defendants in the suit, which he filed in the name of Malcom Omirhobo Foundation, are the National Judicial Council (NJC), Federal Judicial Service Commission, the acting CJN, Federal Government of Nigeria, Nigerian president, attorney general of the federation and the National Assembly.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2019 before Justice Inyang Ekwo, the applicant is also asking for a declaration that by combined interpretation of true letters and spirit of Sections 1(1 )(2), 231(4), 292(1)(a)(i)(b), 153(1)(i), 158(1) and paragraph 21 (a)(b) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, it is unlawful and undemocratic for the 4th and 5th defendants to declare the office of the CJN vacant on January 25, 2019 and consequently appoint and swear in the 3rd defendant as the acting CJN.

He also wants the court to declare that the suspension and/or removal of the CJN from office is a shared responsibility of the 1st defendant, 5th defendant and 7th defendant and that the 5th defendant (Buhari) do not have the power under the law to unilaterally suspend and/or removal the CJN from office.

The applicant is also praying the court to declare that the acting CJN, having conducted himself in a manner that cast doubt of confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary and having made himself as a tool used in the violation of the Constitution is not a proper and fit person to be recommended for appointment to the office of the CJN.

Supported by a 65-paragraph affidavit in which he averred among others that the removal of the CJN did not follow due process of law, the applicant asked the court to make an order stopping president Buhari from appointing Tanko as CJN.

“An order of court, restraining the 7th defendant from confirming the appointment of the 3rd defendant as the CJN.

“Order, compelling the 2nd defendant to select and the 1st defendant to recommend the most qualified Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria that is fit and proper to the 5th defendant for appointment to office of the CJN and for the confirmation of the 7th defendant with a two third majority vote,” he prayed, adding that unless the defendants are restrained, the letters of the provisions of the constitution would continue to be violated by the executive arm of government.