A Federal High Court in Abuja has summoned President Muhammadu Buhari, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad and others to appear before the court over the removal of former CJN Walter Onnoghen.

Justice Inyang Ekwo on Friday also directed members of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), the Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Senate to appear before the court to show cause why an order to restrain them from initiating the confirmation of the acting CJN as substantive CJN should not be made. 

“I have perused the processes in the ex parte and affidavits attached. I am of the opinion that none of the prayers can be granted by ex parte application,” the judge said.

A civil rights lawyer, Malcolm Omirhobo of the Omirhobo Foundation had brought an ex parte application seeking an order of the court to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari and others from initiating the confirmation of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammad.

Omirhobo wants the court to determine whether by sections 1(1)(2), 231(4) (a) (i)(b), 153(1) and Paragraph 21(a)(b) Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the office of the CJN was vacant as at 25th January 2019 when Justice Muhammad was sworn in as Acting CJN.

He wants the court to determine whether the provisions of the Constitution contemplated the removal of the CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by ex parte order of the court. 

He therefore wants the court to make a declaration that, “the third defendant (Justice Muhammad) having conducted himself in a manner that cast doubt of confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary and has made himself as tool used in the violation of the Constitution of Nigeria is not a fit and proper person to be recommended by the 2nd defendant (FJSC) to the 1st defendant (NJC), and by the 1st defendant to the 5th defendant (the President) for appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The case has been adjourned to May 13 for hearing.

Daily Trust