Onnoghen: Senate discontinues Supreme Court case
Senate on Monday said it has ordered the discontinuation of the case it filed at the Supreme Court on the suspension of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The upper legislative chamber explained in a statement signed by Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki that its action followed the intervention of the National Judicial Council, NJC on the issue.
“The Senate has therefore decided to discontinue the case it filed in the Supreme Court. It should be noted that the case has been slated for hearing tomorrow (January 29). This decision also affirm the confidence of the Senate in the ability of the NJC to successfully and creditably resolve the issues”, the statement stated.
Buhari had on Friday, January 25 announced Onnoghen’s suspension and replaced him with Justice Tanko Muhammad IN acting capacity, citing an ex parte order made by two of the three members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT where Onnoghen had been charged with six counts of non-declaration of assets.
The CCT order had directed the CJN to step aside from office pending the conclusion of his trial and ordered the President to swear in the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Tanko Muhammad, as the acting CJN.
But the Senate on January 28, filed a case in the Supreme Court, seeking its interpretation on whether Buhari acted within the provision of the constitution in his suspension of the Justice Onnoghen or whether the action of the President does amount to usurpation of the powers of the Senate as provided for in Section 292 of the constitution.
In the suit marked SC.76/2019, the Red Chamber, through its counsel, Mr. Paul Erokoro, SAN, asked the apex court to declare Onnoghen’s suspension as the CJN without a support of two-thirds majority of the Senate was a violation of section 292(1)(a)(i) of the Constitution.
The suit also asked the apex court to issue an order restraining the two defendants in the suit, President Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN from continuing or repeating the violation of the Constitution and disregarding the power of the Senate in respect to the suspension of the CJN
The three prayers sought by the Senate read: “A declaration that the suspension, by the President, of Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen from his office as Chief Justice of Nigeria on or about January 25, 2019, without an address calling for the removal, supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate is in violation of section 292(1) (a) (i) of the Constitution and therefore null and void.
“An order rescinding or setting aside the suspension of Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen from his office as Chief Justice of Nigeria and restoring him to the said office.
“An order, restraining the defendants from continuing or repeating the violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and disregarding the powers of the Senate at the Federal Republic of Nigeria”
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