By Henry Umoru

PANDEF to Buhari: Forward Onnoghen’s name to Senate for confirmation now

ABUJA—PAN-NIGER Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of the Niger Delta region under the leadership Chief Edwin Clark, weekend, asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to deviate from the existing template by transmitting the name of Justice Walter Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation  as Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.

Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered, last night, that the name of Justice Walter Onnoghen, would be sent to the Senate, this week for confirmation as the CJN.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Nkanu Onnoghen

A source at the Presidency hinted that the move was to douse tension generated by the delay in forwarding his (Onnoghen) name to the Senate for confirmation. Rising from a meeting, weekend,  at the Asokoro, Abuja residence of Chief Clark, the group, while calling on President Buhari to forward Onnoghen name to the Senate for confirmation in line with existing precedence, said it expects the President to submit the name of Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation before the expiration of his acting period.

Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, co-Chairman of PANDEF and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, said members of the group expressed the hope that the president will indeed send Onnoghen’s name for confirmation or it would be interpreted that he was not wanted because of his Niger Delta origins.

Osinbajo’s visit to  N-Delta not a substitute for dialogue

According to him, the group also discussed the proposed visit of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to the Niger Delta region, adding that the group supports the visit and would key into it.

According to him, the group always appreciated the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his peace tour of the Niger Delta, but admonished that while the tour was welcome, Osinbajo must dialogue with the Niger Delta leaders represented by PANDEF on the basis of the 16-point agenda already given to him.

The former Akwa Ibom governor said: “That should be the basis for finding lasting peaceful solutions to the Niger Delta.

“There have been agitations and a lot of questions asked as to why, for the first time, we have a situation where we have an acting CJN and after three months that he has been asked to act, his name still hasn’t been forwarded to the National Assembly for confirmation.

“There has been a lot of concern and as people of the Niger Delta and considering that this is a Nigerian issue and particularly a Niger Delta issue because he is from the Niger Delta region, we decided that we will meet and look at this whole issue and we have come to a conclusion that there is a template for the appointment of CJN and there is no reason whatsoever, that we should expect that the president will deviate from that template.

“It has always been that the National Judicial Council, after all their investigations, will make their recommendation to the presidency, the president will forward the name and the National Assembly will confirm.

The meeting was attended by Chief Clark; Obong Attah; former Akwa Ibom State Military Administrator, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga; former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo; Senator Anietie Okon; Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Senator Rowland Owie; former Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Turner  Isoun; Agbedi Fred; Dame Ime Udom, Dr. Alfred Mulade, among others.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Chief Clark, who described the visit of Osinbajo as very successful, said there have been peace in the Niger Delta, but people are questioning that what is happening in Nigeria particularly with regard to the appointment of the CJN in acting capacity which is strange and has not happened since independence.

He said, “The succession has been the most senior and that traditional has been carried in for more than 30 years. Since then, it has been passing on even during the military and civil war. The NJC has constitutional powers to recommend and forward name to Senate for confirmation. The name returns to the president for appointment.

“There is no provisions in the constitution for an acting CJN. For us in the South South, we appeal to Mr. President to do the needful and send the name of Justice Walter Onnoghen  to the Senate for confirmation before it is too late.”


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