Suspended CJN Walter Onnonghen resigns
Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen has resigned with immediate effect. According to an exclusive report by another online medium, the CJN turned in his resignation letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday evening, a day after the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended that he be compulsorily retired for misconduct.
The National Judicial Council, NJC, had on Wednesday through a statement signed by Soji Oye said it has forwarded the outcome of its investigation into corruption allegations against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen and the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad to President Muhammadu Buhari, for action.
However, the NJC said it decided to refrain from considering the allegation that Justice Onnoghen failed to declare his assets, saying it would amount to subjudice since the matter is in court.
“The National Judicial Council reconvened today in an Emergency Meeting to consider the Report of the Five-Man Committee constituted to investigate the allegations of misconduct made against Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR.
“Council decided that the allegations relating to assets declaration that were levelled against Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N.Onnoghen, GCON were subjudice and therefore abstained from considering them. “Council reached a decision on the petitions written by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others and conveyed its decision to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“Council also resolved that, by the nature of the decision reached, it would be inappropriate to publicise it before conveying it to Mr. President”, the statement read.
It will be recalled that the NJC had on February 13, said it was satisfied that corruption allegations against the suspended CJN deserved to be investigated. The Council equally okayed probe of the Acting CJN, Justice Muhammad, on the allegation that he engaged in misconduct by making himself available to be sworn by President Buhari as Onnoghen’s replacement.
However, in his response to the NJC, Onnoghen, queried the competence of two petitions the EFCC lodged against him. Onnoghen, who was suspended from office by President Buhari on January 25, accused the EFCC of raising “malicious and speculative” allegations against him.
The investigative panel had directed the embattled CJN to respond to corruption allegations the anti-graft agency raised against him.
Specifically, EFCC had in its petitions, alleged that Onnoghen received car and monetary gifts from lawyers, some of whom it said had pending cases in court.
The agency, said its “intelligence report” had indicated that Onnoghen received a Mercedes Benz Gl 450, valued at N7 million, from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Joe Agi. EFCC said its investigation disclosed that the senior lawyer subsequently appeared in a case that was handled by a Supreme Court panel that included the CJN.
Nigerians and the legal practitioners are however with their fingers cross on what would be the next line of action by the government following the suspended CJN’s resignation and the cases instituted against him by the Federal Government.