The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has refused to grant an ex-parte order to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from swearing in Justice Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
However, the court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, fixed May 13 to enable President Buhari, Attorney-General of the Federation, National Judicial Council (NJC), as well as the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), to adduce reason why Justice Muhammad should not be declared unfit to finally take over the leadership of the judiciary.
It will be recalled that President Buhari had on January 25, appointed Justice Muhammad to replace the former CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen who was suspended from office over an allegation that he breached the code of conduct for public officers by failing to properly declare his assets as prescribed by the law.
Justice Onnoghen was eventually convicted on April 18 by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, which found him guilty on all six-count charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
As part of his sentence, the CCT directed his removal as the CJN and head of both the NJC and the FJSC.
President Buhari had since extended Justice Muhammad’s initial three months tenure as the Acting CJN, based on NJC’s recommendation.
Nevertheless, a human rights lawyer, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2019, asked court to declare that Justice Muhammad who is currently the most senior jurist at the Supreme Court, is unfit to replace the sacked CJN, Justice Onnoghen.
Meanwhile, before hearing could commence in the matter, the plaintiff, brought an ex-parte motion to abort any plan to consolidate Justice Muhammad’s position as head of the judiciary.
The application was rejected by the court which ordered the plaintiff to go and put all the defendants on notice to enable them to appear and show cause why the relief should not be granted.
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