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Confirm Onoghen as substantive CJN Now- HURIWA

By HURIWA
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A Civil Society group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately send the name of Justice Walter Onoghen to the Senate for confirmation as substantive ChiefJustice of Nigeria to end the tyrannical siege on the nation’s Judiciary.

“As it is now, the failure of President Buhari to respect the recommendation of Justice Onoghen as CJN in a substantive way as made by the National Judicial Council since two months ago shows a clear Northern regional agenda to circumvent the long existing hierarchical mapping of the Judiciary in Nigeria just so a puppet, stooge and boot licker of the executive can be picked to do the political dirty job of the current presidency”.

At a news briefing today HURIWA has warned that the illegal substitution of Onoghen to achieve political agenda by the political powers-that-be dominated by former local leaders of AREWA CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY will further polarize the country along ethno-religious fault lines and this sinister project will in a very serious way injure the integrity and constitutional standing of the Judiciary.

In a media statement issued by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA emphatically states as follows: “GENTLEMEN OF THE MEDIA, The 'Suspended animation' delay of Justice Walter Onoghen’s confirmation occasioned by taciturn action of President Buhari is weakening the integrity of the court system.

Section 6 of the Constitution is specific on the role of the Court system in the smooth running of Constitutional democracy and if by political design the hierarchy of the Court system is unduly politicized then the public standing of the Judiciary is put on the spots.

Section 6 states thus: “(1) The judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the Federation.

(2) The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State.

(3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record.

(4) Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as precluding:- (a) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly from establishing courts, other than those to which this section relates, with subordinate jurisdiction to that of a High Court; (b) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly, which does not require it, from abolishing any court which it has power to establish or which it has brought into being.

(5) This section relates to:- (a) the Supreme Court of Nigeria; (b) the Court of Appeal; (c) the Federal High Court; (d) the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (e) a High Court of a State; (f) the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (g) a Sharia Court of Appeal of a State; (h) the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (i) a Customary Court of Appeal of a State; (j) such other courts as may be authorized by law to exercise jurisdiction on matters with respect to which the National Assembly may make laws; and (k) such other court as may be authorized by law to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which a House of Assembly may make laws.

(6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section - (a) shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law; (b) shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person; (c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution; (d) shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January, 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law.”

The deliberate delay in submitting the name of the next in line In the succession plan of the National Judicial Council has given rise to wild speculations that just like how President Buhari single handedly gave all the top defence positions to Hausa/Fulani Northern Muslims, that there is a sinister plot to bypass Justice Onoghen for a Northerner from Bauchi State.

If this is carried out as speculated therefore the integrity, respectability, status and global judicial purification role of the Court System would have been politically tainted and contaminated.

We are in the know that there is indeed serious efforts from Northern hawks to alter the seniority rule that should automatically make the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria the substantive CJN.

Why for the first time in over 30 years did the President fail to submit the name to Senate for confirmation as substantive CJN as was Constitutionally recommended by the rightful authority- NJC?

Gentlemen in the last 30 years, a section of Nigeria – the North has consistently produced Nigeria’s Chief Justice and the tradition of seniority has become conventional for those numbers of years.

For emphasis you may wish to visit www.supremecourt.gov.ng to read the historical trajectory of appointmentof CJN’s as follows;

Hon. Justice Stafford Foster Sutton (Past CJF)
Hon. Justice Adetokunbo Ademola KBE, GCON 1958 -
Hon. Justice Taslim Olawale Elias CFR, GCON 1972 -
Hon. Justice Darnley Arthur Alexander CBE,KCMG,CFR,GCON 1975 -

Hon. Justice Atanda Fatai-Williams CON,GCON 1979 -
Hon. Justice George Sodeinde Sowemimo CON,GCON 1983 -

Hon. Justice Ayo Gabriel lrikefe OFR,CON,GCON 1985 -

Hon. Justice Muhammed Bello CON,GCON 1987 -
Hon. Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais CON,GCON 1995 -
Hon. Justice Salisu Modibo Alfa Belgore CON,GCON 2006 -

Hon. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi CON, GCON 2007 -
Hon. Justice Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu CON, GCON 2010 -

Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher CON, CFR, FNIALS, GCON 2011 -

Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar JSC, CON, CFR, FNIALS, GCON 2012 -

Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed GCON 2014-2016.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) therefore calls on the Nigerian Presidency to immediately send the name of Justice Onoghen for confirmation.”