WITH the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), the coast seems clear for Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to mount the saddle as CJN.
President Muhammadu Buhari is likely to accept the NJC’s recommendation that Justice Muhammad should be CJN, The Nation learnt yesterday.
But Buhari is said to be weighing whether or not to accept the NJC’s recommendations on the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria ( CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Buhari, who had a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the issue before flying out to Jordan yesterday, is also said to be seeking legal opinions on the NJC’s decisions.
The NJC absolved Justice Muhammad of any blame in deferring to the President to be sworn in as the Acting CJN.
He accepted the appointment, having been presented with an ex parte order of the CCT, which led to Justice Onnoghen’s suspension.
We learnt that after receiving the NJC’s recommendations, the President elected to seek legal advice on them.
whether or not NJC’s conclusions on findings on Onnoghen did not amount to indictment;
if he should accept NJC’s soft-landing decision to retire Justice Onnoghen with full benefits;
Onnoghen’s retirement without benefits; and
whether the law should run its full course, including the conclusion of Onnoghen’s trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal and a fresh trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Buhari is also believed to be thinking of asking NJC to recommend deterrence for Onnoghen or seeking further consultations with the council.
The President is also said to be planning to seek advice on whether the input of the Senate necessary in retiring Onnoghen?
The source said: “Since he received the NJC’s recommendations, the President has been thinking of how to manage the situation without rubbishing the anti-corruption agenda of his administration. He has the right to accept or reject the council’s recommendations on Onnoghen.
“The President is already seeking legal opinion on legal issues surrounding the NJC’s decisions. He does not want to set a bad precedent in tackling this Onnoghengate”.
The source confirmed that the President met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. He believed Onnoghen’s case and other matters were discussed.