By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Cross River State Elders Forum, yesterday, asked the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to, as a matter of urgent national importance, forward Justice Walter Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.
Onnoghen’s three months acting tenure will expire on Friday.
The group, which addressed newsmen in Abuja, through Mr Lawrence Alobi, maintained that such action by the acting President would be in compliance with section 231(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It however, wished President Muhammadu Buhari a speedy recovery and safe return to the country in good health.
“On behalf of the people of Cross River State, we the Cross River Elders Forum, without any intention to overheat the polity, hereby bring to the fore the critical issue on the appointment of the CJN.
“Firstly, we want to appreciate President Buhari’s consideration of Cross River State indigenes for appointment into top positions in his administration. Whenever the office of the CJN is vacant, the National Judicial Council, NJC, in compliance with the succession principle and processes, is constitutionally authorised to nominate a candidate for appointment as a substantive CJN.
“Consequently, when the exalted office of the CJN became vacant in 2016, the NJC, in exercising its constitutional powers, rightly nominated Justice Onnoghen and sent his name to Mr. President for appointment as CJN.
“In keeping with his oath of office, Mr. President accordingly appointed Justice Onnoghen acting CJN. We thank Mr. President for finding him worthy of appointment..
“However, the President has not forwarded his name to the Senate as provided for under section 231(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and Justice Onnoghen has been acting for almost three months.
“This has concomitantly raised suspicion and great concern amongst most Nigerians, bearing in mind that in the past 30 years no Southerner has been appointed CJN, which of course, is contrary to the principle of equity, justice and fairness.
“We, therefore, appeal that the President and acting President, as a matter of urgent national importance, should do the needful and forward Justice Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation.”