Court Dismisses Suit Seeking to Stop Confirmation of Tanko Muhammad as CJN

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, dismissed the suit challenging the appointment of Justice Tanko Muhammad as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Delivering judgment, Justice Iyang Ekwo, struck out the suit, on the grounds that the plaintiff, Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation,  lacked the ”locus standi” to file the suit.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Thursday, forwarded the name of Justice Muhammad to the Senate for approval as the substantive CJN.

He also sought the approval of the upper legislative chamber to enable him appoint 15 special advisers.

Justice Ekwo held that the plaintiff, who initiated the suit, using his foundation, a Non governmental organisation(NGO), lacked the right to initiate legal action in the matter.

He said Omirhobo filed the case under the NGO,  registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

The judge held that the purpose for which the case was filed was outside the purview for which the foundation was created.

”The plaintiff exceeded the parameter of his foundation. It is the law that the suit must be struck out.

”I hereby make an order striking out this action,” Ekwo said.

Omirhobo said he would appeal the court’s judgment because the Judge did not go look into the merit of the matter.

”So the court did not say whether the plaintiff’s rights are enforceable or not, or whether the defendants are wrong or right.

”So as it stands, the court gave a judgment against the plaintiff on the ground that it lacks a locus standi and then decline jurisdiction.

”We have applied for the certified true copies of the judgment and God willing, we are appealing.

”We will study the document and appeal because we are not satisfied,” he said.

Omirhobo condemned the action of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission for advising and recommending that President Buhari should make Muhammad as substantive CJN when the case was still ongoing.

NAN reports that Muhammad was sworn in as the Acting CJN on Jan. 25 soon after the  President  Buhari suspensded Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Omirhobo had filed the suit against the NJC before the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order to stop the appointment of Muhammad as the substantive CJN.

The applicant in the suit alleged that Muhammad made himself a willing tool in the hands of the executive to violate the constitution as egards the controversial removal of the former CJN Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The suit had the NJC, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the President of Nigeria, Mr Muhammad, the Federal Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Senate as defendants.

The applicant had sought the court’s declaration that the Constitution never contemplated the suspension or removal of the CJN by an ‘exparte order’ of court.

The applicant added that ”the president does not have the vires or power under the law to unilaterally suspend and/or remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria from office.”

Omirhobo then sought an order restraining the Senate from confirming the appointment of Muhammad as the substantive CJN.

After his suspension, Onnoghen was convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false assets declaration.

The tribunal ordered his sack from office. It also ruled that he should forfeit his undeclared assets while in office as substantive CJN.


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