Buhari relies on order from Code of Conduct Tribunal to suspend Chief Justice of Nigeria weeks to presidential election

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The Code of Conduct Tribunal has granted an Interim Order in favour of the Federal Government and subsequently used by President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

PRNigeria reliably gathered that the Tribunal was allegedly put under pressure to entertain a Motion Exparte brought before it by the Government against Onnoghen a day before the Court of Appeal issued an order barring the Tribunal from taking further action on the Asset Declaration Charges brought against the now suspended CJN.

A Copy of the Motion Exparte obtained by PRNigeria exclusively was dated January 23, 2019 but was slated for hearing next Monday before the dramatic turn of the event by the Federal Government against Justice Onnoghen.

The Motion Exparte read in parts: “An Interim Order of the Honourable Tribunal directing the Defendant/Respondent to step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chairman of the National Judicial Council over an allegation of the Contravening the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the Motion on Notice dated 10th Day of January 2019.

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“An Interim Order of the Honourable Tribunal directing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to take all necessary measure to swear the most Senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the motion on Notice.

“And for such further order(s) as this Honourable Tribunal may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.”

The ruling of the Tribunal also read in part: “It is hereby ordered as follows: That the defendant/respondent shall step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council over allegation of Contravening the provisions of the code of Conducts and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the Motion on notice dated 10th January 2019.

“That the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall take all necessary measure to swear in the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the motion on notice.

“This matter is hereby adjourned to the 28 Day of January 2019 for Hearing.

“Issued at Abuja under the Hand and Seal of the Honorable Chairman and Member of this Honourable Tribunal this 23th Day of January 2019 By Hon Danladi Y. Umar, Hon. Chairman, and Mrs. Julie A. Anabor Hon Member II”

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