By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Supreme Court, yesterday, fixed May 17 to deliver judgment in a suit the Cross River State government filed to challenge the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A seven-man panel of justices of the apex court, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, adjourned to determine the legal propriety of the action President Buhari took against Onnoghen on January 25.
President Buhari had on the basis of an ex-parte order issued by Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, ordered Onnoghen, who is facing corruption charge, to step aside, even as he swore in the next most senior jurist on the Supreme Court bench, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to take over as the Acting CJN.
However, dissatisfied with the action, Cross River State invoked section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, which conferred the apex court with original jurisdiction to sit as a court of first instance on disputes between any state of the federation and the Federal Government.
Specifically, Cross River State, through the office of the Attorney General, is praying the apex court to determine whether the suspension or removal of Onnoghen from office by President Buhari, based on an ex-parte order by a lay magistrate (the Chairman of the CCT), was not in gross violation of section 292(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.