CJN Walter Onnoghen Chief Justice of Nigeria
CJN Walter Onnoghen Chief Justice of Nigeria

Twenty-five constitutional lawyers, on Monday, dragged President Muhammadu Buhari before the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge what they termed as illegal suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Aside President Buhari, other Defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/113/2019, were the National Judicial Council, NJC, the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, and the suspended CJN, Justice Onnoghen.

In a 30-paragraph affidavit that was deposed to by the 1st Plaintiff, the litigants insisted that President Buhari acted beyond his powers by suspending Onnoghen without recourse to the NJC.

The Plaintiffs, led by human rights activist, Mr. Johnmary Jideobi, posed two legal issues for the determination of the court.

They prayed the high court to determine, “Whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153(1) (i) paragraph 21(a) of the 3rd Schedule and Sections 271, 291, 292 and 231 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [and especially in view of the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb vs. AGF (2012) 13 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 1318);], there exists any authority in the 1st Defendant (Buhari) to suspend the 4th Defendant (Onnoghen) as the Chief Justice of Nigeria?

As well as, “Whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153(1) (i) paragraph 21(a) of the 3rd Schedule and Sections 271, 291, 292 and 231 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [and especially in view of the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb vs. AGF (2012) 13 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 1318);] the purported suspension of the 4th Defendant as the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the 1st Defendant on the 25th January, 2019 is not unconstitutional?”.

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