Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Upper Legislative Chamber has filed a suit before the Supreme Court praying for the reinstatement of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The suit marked SC.76/2019, asked the apex court to declare the pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari suspending the CJN without the input of the two-thirds majority of the Senate as stipulated by the constitution as null and void.
They said the suspension of the CJN is in total violation of section 292(1)(a)(i) of the Constitution.
The suit is also asking Supreme Court to issue an order restraining the two defendants in the suit – President Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami – 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 suit 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.”
President Buhari had suspended the CJN relying on an ex parte order made by two of the three members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal 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, which was done immediately Onnoghen was suspended.
The Senate lawyer was led Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN), saying the President could not on the directive of the CCT suspend the CJN without two-third majority of the Senate or appoint Muhammad as the Acting CJN without the Senate’s confirmation.
The plaintiff submitted two questions for determination, report from Abuja says.
At the time of filing this report, Aso Rock hasn’t reacted to the next latest update about the action of the Senate.