The National Judicial Council (NJC) rose from its emergency meeting with a decision to allow suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the acting CJN, Justices Walter Onnoghen and Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad seven days to respond to petitions pending against them.
The petition against Onnoghen relates to the allegation of violation of the code of conduct for public officers in relation to his alleged failure to declare his assets.
The petition against Muhammad relates to his alleged misconduct in allowing himself to be sworn-in in manner that breach existing law, tradition and constitutional provisions.
NJC’s Director, Information Soji Oye, said, in a statement that the council also elected to refer petition against CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
It was learnt that Onnoghen and Muhammad were absent from the meeting, which was eventually chaired by retired Court of Appeal President, Umaru Abdulahi.
The case against Umar, The Nation learnt, relates to his alleged abuse of judicial authority of breach of constitutional provisions by the orders he made in the course of proceedings in the charge against the suspended CJN.
One of such orders is where the CCT rejected to be bound by orders given by High Courts, directing it to stay proceedings.
Another is the ex-parte order the CCT made, on which President Muhammadu Buhari claimed to have relied in suspended Onnoghen and inaugurated Muhammad in acting capacity.
It was also learnt that the NJC chose to abridge the usual 14 response time to seven, in view of the weighty issues involved in the petitions against Onnoghen and Muhammad.
NJC adjourned to reconvene on February, 11 this year.
The statement reads: “The National Judicial Council held an Emergency Meeting today and considered four (4) petitions filed at its Secretariat. The petitions are:
“Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON by Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education;
“Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative;
“Petition against Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, OON; and
“Petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar, Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal by Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.
“Council referred the petition against Hon. Danladi Yakubu Umar to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) 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. Muhammad, 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. Muhammad, 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.
“Council will reconvene on the 11th February, 2019.”