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29 Jan 2019

Onnoghen: NBA President Breaks Silence On Walking Out Of NJC Meeting Today

The President of Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro (SAN), has explained why he left the venue of the meeting of the National Judicial Council on Tuesday.

The NJC had held an emergency meeting in Abuja on Tuesday (today), but Usoro left the venue of the meeting almost immediately it started.

The reason for his leaving of the council’s meeting could not be immediately ascertained.

Usoro, however, told our correspondent that he did not walk out of the meeting. He said he left the venue after due permission from the Council to attend to some urgent matters.

“Don’t have the impression that I walked out. I only left the venue after taking permission,” he said.

Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen; and Acting CJN Tanko Mohammed, did not attend the meeting.
A former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umar Abdullahi, was elected to preside over the meeting as an interim chairman.

President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen on Friday based on an ex parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal which ordered him to step aside.

The President swore in Mohammed in his place in acting capacity.

The action has drawn criticisms from the Nigerian Bar Association and opposition parties which accused Buhari of eroding the independence of the judiciary.

The NJC also referred a petition against the CCT chairman, Danladi Umar, to the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

According to a press release by the NJC’s Director (Information), Soji Oye, the council took the decisions after considering four petitions filed at its secretariat.

The statement explained that the petition against Onnoghen was by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education; while two petitions against Acting CJN Mohammed came from Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative; and also from Olisa Agbakoba, SAN.

It added that the petition against Umar was authored by the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

The statement added, “Council referred the petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission, which is the appropriate constitutional body empowered to deal with it.

“In line with its procedure, Council also forwarded the petitions against Hon. Justices W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON; and I. T. Mohammed, CFR, to them for their responses.

“In view of the gravity of the matters involved, Council abridged the usual response period from fourteen (14) to seven (7) working days for the Hon. Justices to respond.

“Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I.T. Mohammed, CFR, recused themselves from the meeting.

“Consequently, Council elected Hon. Mr. Justice Umaru Abdullahi, CON, former President of the Court of Appeal, as Interim Chairman to preside over the meeting.”

The Council will reconvene on February 11.

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