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Why Buhari appointed the new Chief Justice only in acting capacity


More information has emerged on why Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari belatedly appointed Justice Walter Onnoghen, as the new chief justice of Nigeria, CJN.

Muhammadu Buhari yesterday swore in Mr Onnoghen, as the new chief justice.

But rather than submitting his name to the Senate to be confirmed as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the president chose to appoint him in acting capacity. 

This followed Elombah.com report two days ago that Buhari hesitated to approve the CJN nominee because he’s a southern christian.

The tenure of office of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, [CJN] Mahmud Mohammed, expired on 9th November, 2016.

The name of Justice Onnoghen, the next most Senior Justice of the Supreme Court, has since October 10, 2016, been forwarded to the President.

Buhari had  been expected to constitutionally forward his name to the Senate for confirmation.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari refused to forward Justice Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation until our story forced his hand yesterday to reluctantly approve Justice Onoghen, albeit in an acting capacity.

READ ALSO Buhari Rejects CJN nominee because he’s a southern christian

The swearing in ceremony was conducted, Thursday, at the council chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Aso Vila sources told Elombah.com that when our story broke on Wednesday, it caused a scare in a presidency already tainted by nepotism and alleged northernisation and islamisation of the the coutry.

In a flurry of activities sparked by our expose,  Mr. Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the president will swear in an acting CJN on Thursday.

“An acting CJN will be sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari at 2.00 pm Thursday,” he stated in a text message, adding that he had no information about who would be appointed into the office.

“The Attorney-General of the Federation will present the person to the president for swearing-in,” he said.

Mr. Shehu said there was no need for confusion, in response to concerns over the delay of Mr. Buhari to endorse the appointment of the next most senior judge in the apex court, Walter Onnoghen.


Some observers however say it is a mind game to moderate the CJN’s and the entire bench’s displeasure to Executive’s cleansing actions on Judiciary.

Some also opine that the strategy is to “trigger off that latent desperation trait in every man in acting capacity desirous of confirmation”.

Other sources say the president is uncomfortable with a new CJN he is not familiar with, coming from an area that does not support his presidency if not being in effective opposition.

The northern part of the country has dominated the apex court for decades and effectively influenced who heads it.

But according to Anayo Nwosu, “the plot is simple. The acting CJN is required to prove to PMB that he is to be trusted and is ready to help the presidency perfect their already commenced actions to rout out some “bad eggs” in the Judiciary.

“Watch out to see the “positive co-operation through actions” of The Honourable, Justice Walter Onnoghen to impress the Executive to send his name to Senate for confirmation as the CJN.

“If he is confirmed, he have 4 more years to serve as the CJN.

“The acting CJN is smart and he got the message.

“He will “perform” to impress the Boss to get his appointment regularized. It’s that simple.

“Many people can read in between the lines and I just did. It’s a power play to cow a man.

“It’s just an advanced mind game to obtain compliance and that PMB shall get.”


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