Godwin Tsa, Abuja
After a morning postponement drama, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Muhammad Tanko, conducted the inauguration of Justice John Tsoho as the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court on Friday afternoon.
The ceremony, originally scheduled for 10 am, was earlier suspended in a dramatic fashion to await clearance from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Following the suspense, guests––including former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Andoakaa (SAN) and Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, another judge of the court who is next in seniority to Justice Tsoho––who were seated at the Supreme Court venue of the event, dispersed when there was no sign that the inauguration would hold.
Dr Festus Akande, the Director of Press and Information of the apex court, later confirmed that the event had not taken place because the CJN had yet to receive confirmation from President Muhammadu Buhari in respect of the appointment of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
The CJN had subsequently rescheduled the event for 2:30 pm. Though the ceremony held, it was not clear if President Buhari eventually gave his approval for Tsoho to take over as the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
After Tsoho took his oath, Justice Tanko Muhammad simply avowed that it was a constitutional provision that the next most senior judge of the court could be appointed as the Acting Chief Judge pending the conclusion for the process of the substantive Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
Tsoho, who hails from Benue State, was born on June 24, 1959, and appointed a judge of the Federal High Court on November 12, 1998.
He replaced Justice Adamu Abdul-Kafarati who retired as the Chief Judge of the court after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 65 years. Tsoho’s elevation as Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court was in line with the rules that enable the most senior judge to occupy the office of the Chief Judge when the post is vacant pending the appointment of a substantive chief judge.
Performing the ceremony, Justice Tanko Muhammad admonished Justice Tsoho to cooperate and work harmoniously with the judges on the bench of the Federal High Court.
The CJN counselled him to move round all divisions of the court across the country to avail himself of the challenges facing the divisions.
He further tasked JusticeTsoho to create a sense of belonging for all judges and create better welfare package for the staff of the court.
“Do not just sit down and be a hearsay person, visit all divisions of your court to know their challenges and think of solutions to the problems”, he charged.