The Cross River State Caucus in the National Assembly has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly act decisively on the appointment of Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) as the delay has given room to unnecessary speculations about the fate of Justice Onnoghen.
At a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, three senators and eight members of the House of Representatives from Cross River State told National Assembly correspondents that the non-trasmital of a letter to the Senate seeking confirmation of Onnoghen by President Buhari is unfortunate as the development has enveloped the Supreme Court and judiciary as a whole with an “intriguing cobweb of uncertainty”.
The federal lawmakers, who spoke through Senator John Enoh, added that there is a growing sentiment in certain quarters that Justice Onnoghen’s elevation to the rank of CJN is allegedly held in abeyance because he is not from a particular ethnic group said to be preferred by “powerful forces”.
“The president’s inaction in this instance has acted as cannon fodder for those alluding to a vast conspiracy to deny Justice Onnoghen his earned position.
“We are worried by this development for obvious reasons. As a hallowed institution, the judiciary is the bastion of our democracy and should be insulated from undue influence, politics and manipulation of political predators.
“We call on the Presidency to act in a decisive manner to reassure Nigerians that we are all equal and that if we are able to harness our God-given talents, that we can aspire to the highest position in our nation unencumbered by primordial forces. Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen is eminently qualified to occupy the position of Chief Justice of Nigeria,” they said the National Judicial Council (NJC) in exercise of its powers under Section 231(1) of the 1999 Constitution had on Thursday, October 13, 2016 recommended Justice Onnoghen as the next CJN to President Buhari on the expiration of Justice Mahmud Muhammed’s tenure as CJN.
But in an unprecedented move, Buhari rather swore in Onnoghen as acting CJN on Thursday, November 10, 2016, an appointment which will expire on Friday, February 10, 2017.