By Dr. Kingsley Orlu 19:00. 25 January 2019
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship Hon. Mr. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, on Friday 25 January was suspended by the president, Muhammadu Buhari. He was suspended on grounds of corruption allegations.
The president, on the same day, swears in Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, aged 65, as Acting CJN. The new Acting CJN is next to Mr. Onnoghen in seniority at the Supreme Court, born in Bauchi State.
The government had alleged that the CJN failed to declare his assets as prescribed by law in a six-count charge. The government claimed it has shreds of evidence that prove the CJN maintains domiciliary bank accounts. The lingering graft charges against the deposed Chief Justice has sparked controversy across the country.
Mr. Onnoghen is also facing trial over an alleged false declaration of assets brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau. Mr. Onnoghen had approached the Court of Appeal that his trial should be halted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, citing its lack of merit.
The Chief Justice trial comes on the heels of the forthcoming 2019 general elections. His removal is said to coincide with the period when he was gearing up to inaugurate the electoral tribunal members. This development apparently becomes a recipe in the hands of politicians who may find it as either a threat or an opportunity in politics.