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President Muhammadu Buhari, has on Tuesday night, revealed why he might not be in a haste to send the name of the Acting Chief Justice Of Nigeria, CJN, Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation.

Recall, that Onnoghen’s acting capacity as the CJN, would elapse on February 10, having been appointed last three months, following the exit of the last CJN.

Speaking through the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, revealed how some retired CJN had, over the years, acted as conduits for corruption on the Bench.

Besides, he offered explanations on why Buhari would not rubber stamp Onnoghen, as recommended by the National Judicial Council, NJC, for the office of the nation’s Chief Justice.

These past CJNs, according to him, had brought ruins to the judiciary, as they were still collecting bribe in dollars on behalf of their ‘vulnerable colleagues’.

“Up till today, one of them calling himself ‘Consultant’ regularly carries money to his former colleagues, still serving in the judiciary, to buy justice for his law chamber clients, while the other one specializes in dollars and distributing it amongst vulnerable colleagues.

“These are the types of Justices who have brought ruin to the Judiciary, making it necessary for close vetting of candidates for Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Presidential level.” Sagay said.

According to him, corruption in the judiciary was fuelled by the NJC’s lack of due diligence in the appointment of Justices for the apex court, which had occasioned the decay and the embarrassment the nation’s apex court was being faced in today’s emerging Nigeria.



“This load has fallen on the President because of the failure of the NJC to exercise due diligence in the past when making recommendations to the President. “From my own perspective, without any privileged information, I believe that this is the process ongoing right now.”

Faulting views by a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who pushed for a substantive CJN, Sagay said Buhari was not bound to ratify Onnoghen’s name as recommended by the NJC.

He specifically said that since Buhari was neither rubber stamp of the NJC nor a robot for the conveyance of a recommendation from the NJC to the Senate, Onnoghen’s recommendation or any other names were not automatic for the CJN’s chair.

Sagay said that the integrity, skill, productivity, established reputation of who becomes the substantive CJN, must form the fulcrum of the ongoing debate, saying the tradition of the most Senior Justice for the CJN’s office, was unhealthy to the nation’s judicial system.

He said: “There has been extreme agitation and frenzy over the failure of the President to send Hon. Justice Onnoghen’s name for confirmation, literally within seconds of receiving the NJC’s recommendation.
“These agitations have exhibited ignorance, bad faith or down-right primordial motives. The crossroads in which we find ourselves today is entirely of the making of the NJC and the legal profession as a whole. There is need to inject fresh blood into our judicial system by appointing qualified lawyers from outside the bench straight to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

“In this regard, senior law academics in our universities and senior renowned legal practitioners of integrity and acclaimed knowledge and skill in law should be an additional source to the appointment of appellate Judges, even as Chief Justice of Nigeria, directly.

“An appointee to the position of Chief Justice need not be the most Senior Justices of the Supreme Court.

‘’We must take into consideration the reputation, the integrity, the skill, productivity, established reputation of the candidate before appointing him to the position of Chief Justice of Nigeria.

“I, therefore, appeal that our notoriously loquacious and unrestrained compatriots should desist from further hysteria to allow the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria to earn his position on his own merit rather than create a frenzy and furore which can result in the very opposite of what they are loudly agitating for.”

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