Ekiti state governor and Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum, Mr. Ayo Fayose, has called on the acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, to send the name of Justice Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) without further delay.
He said “Prof Osinbajo, a lawyer himself should know that it is dangerous to the unity of Nigeria and sustenance of democracy that it is now being insinuated that Justice Onnoghen is being denied appointment as substantive CJN on the basis of ethnicity and politics.”
The governor also said himself and other Nigerians agitating for the appointment of Justice Onnoghen as the substantive CJN were not fighting for Justice Onnoghen as a person, but the sanctity of the office of the CJN, which, according to him, “the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government was trying to rubbish.”
In a statement issued at the weekend by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said it was strange that President Muhammadu Buhari chose to appoint Justice Onnoghen as Acting CJN despite that the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended him to the President since October 13, 2018, 28 clear days to November 10, 2016 that the immediate past CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed retired.
The governor said: “As a lawyer, Acting President, Osinbajo should do the needful by simply sending Justice Onnoghen’s name to the Senate as recommended by the NJC.”
Reacting to Justice Onnoghen’s plea that Nigerians should not pressurize President Buhari into making him the substantive CJN, and that the president do not need any threat or ultimatum to perform his constitutional duties,” Governor Fayose said: “We are not fighting for Justice Onnoghen as an individual. Rather, we are fighting for Nigeria and the sanctity of the office of the CJN which, for the first time in the history of judiciary in Nigeria, is being used to play political and ethic games.
“Justice Onnoghen should therefore carry on with his job as the Acting CJN and leave Nigerians to put pressure on President Buhari who has refused to perform his mandatory constitutional responsibility of sending the name of anyone nominated by the NJC for appointment as CJN to the Senate for confirmation.”
Said he: “One of the principles on which Nigeria is operating is Federal Character and it was this Federal Character that brought President Buhari to office. Therefore, the principle of Federal Character must be respected on the appointment of CJN.
“It should not be seen as if Justice Onnoghen was denied of his appointment as a substantive CJN because he is from the South-South or that they want to use his pending appointment as substantive CJN to make him do their biddings.”
Governor Fayose, who maintained that playing politics with the judiciary, especially at the CJN level was dangerous to the survival of democracy, vowed that President Buhari and his APC will not be allowed to destroy the judiciary as they destroyed the country’s economy and the electoral system.