Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has extended the appointment of Justice Ibrahim Tanko as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (ACJN) for another three months following a request by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The approval came on the day the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) convicted the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was accused of failing to properly declare his assets, as well as operating five domiciliary foreign bank accounts.
The Tribunal consequently ordered the forfeiture of money in all 5 bank accounts belomging to Onnoghen to the federal government and the banning of the former Chief Justice from holding public office for ten years.
Justice Ibrahim Tanko was appointed as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Buhari after the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen based on the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
In a statement in Abuja, the NJC said “it considered and approved the request of President Muhammadu Buhari, for the extension of the appointment of Hon. Justice I.T. Muhammad, as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria for another three months.”
The Council’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, who signed the statement, said the NJC, which met and considered the request on April 18, 2019, has since forwarded its approval to the President.
Section 231  of the 1999 constitution empowers the President to appoint the most senior justice of the the Supreme Court if the office of the CJN became vacant.
While section 231 of the same constitution provides that such an appointment will lapse after three months without NJC’s recommendation.
The section reads, “Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, an appointment pursuant to the provisions of subsection  of this section shall cease to have effect after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment, and the President shall not re-appoint a person whose appointment has lapsed.”
Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, until his appointment, has been a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria since 2006.