Nigeria: NJC Decides On Petitions Against Onnoghen, Acting CJN Muhammad

11 February 2019

The National Judicial Council (NJC) will meet to give its verdict after hearing from suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen and the acting CJN, Ibrahim Muhammad, on Monday.

The NJC, which is constitutionally responsible for the discipline of senior judicial officers, had scheduled the meeting after giving the two senior members of the council seven days to respond to petitions brought against them.

While Mr Onnoghen is accused of false asset charge, his counterpart was indicted of constitutional violation for submitting himself to be sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari after Mr Onnoghen was suspended by the president, without approval from the NJC, in January.

The petition indicting Mr Onnoghen was written by members of a group, Resource Centre For Civil Education, while the allegation against Mr Muhammad was written by a lawyer, Olisa Agbakoba, and another group, Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

Confirming the meeting on Sunday, the NJC spokesperson, Soji Oye said the meeting is a follow-up of the one which resulted in the January 29 directive by the NJC.

Mr Onnoghen was suspended on January 25, 11 days after his trial on alleged false asset charge began at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on January 14.

The suspended CJN was facing charges for allegedly omitting information expected in his asset declaration form when he filled same in 2016.

Although, Mr Onnoghen confirmed forgetting the said details, comprising his domiciliary accounts information, the suspended CJN has not appeared at the tribunal for the trial.

The trial, prompted by an allegation from a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Denis Aghanya was also criticised as a plot by Mr Buhari's APC to remove Mr Onnoghen from office.

If both officers are found liable by the council after today's meeting, the consequence may include the appointment of a new CJN for the country.

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