NJC Writes Osinbajo, Recommends Extension of Onnoghen’s Tenure as Acting CJN
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has written to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to recommend the extension of the tenure of the Hon Justice Walter Onnoghen as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The NJC letter was sent to the Acting President on Wednesday after its emergency meeting at which the need to prevent a vacuum in the headship of the judiciary was discussed.
NJC’s request for the extension of Onnoghen’s tenure as acting CJN also came at a time presidency sources have reportedly indicated that Acting President Osinbajo already transmitted a letter to the Nigerian Senate seeking Onnoghen’s confirmation as substantive CJN.
Neither the presidency nor the senate has officially commented on the veracity of the claims that a letter seeking Onnoghen’s confirmation has been sent to the senate.
The Nigerian constitution empowers the NJC to recommend the extension of the tenure of a CJN appointed in acting capacity.
Without the NJC recommendation, Onnoghen would be unable to retain the seat or be re-appointed in acting capacity by the acting president at the expiration of his 3-month tenure on Friday.
As acting CJN, Onnoghen doubles as chairman of the NJC. Punch however reports that Onnoghen was absent at the meeting where the extension of his tenure was discussed, in keeping with the tradition of the council to excuse persons whose matters were to be discussed from its meetings.
A source within the NJC said the decision to send a letter to Osinbajo recommending the extension of tenure was taken because no one knew exactly what the presidency was doing and it was better to err on the side of excess.
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