From FRED ITUA, Abuja
Lawmakers from Cross River State in both chambers of the National Assembly, on Tuesday, protested President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in sending Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen to the Senate for confirmation as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
They thereby urged the President to do the needful in this case.
Leader of the state Caucus in the National Assembly, Senator John Enoh, while addressing newsmen, said President Buhari’s delay in sending Onnoghen’s name to the Senate was fueling a growing sentiment in certain quarters that he is being frustrated because he is from a preferred part of the country.
He said by sending Onnoghen’s name to the Senate, Buhari would have succeeded in dispelling claims that some people are more equal than others in Nigeria.
Enoh added that the delay in sending Onnoghen’s name to the Senate, has brought the issue of the Independence of the judiciary and security of tenure of judges to doubt.
John Enoh said: “Exactly two months and fifteen days, the presidency has delayed and withheld to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation as Chief Justice of Nigeria as required by Section 231(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“We are worried by this development for obvious reasons. The judiciary is the bastion of our democracy and should be insulated from undue influence, politics and manipulation of political predators. It operates on an established tradition of a settled succession based on merit and seniority.
“The unfortunate development by refusing to send Onnoghen’s name has enveloped the Supreme Court and Judiciary with an intriguing cobweb of uncertainty and given conspiracy theorists a field day to decode why this obvious travesty has endured up till now.
“There is a growing sentiment in certain quarters that Justice Onnoghen’s earned elevation to the rank of CJN is held in abeyance precisely because he is either not from a particular ethnic origin preferred by powerful forces or his profound and at times radical pronouncements make him too principled to occupy this exalted office.”
Since his appointment late last year by President Buhari in an acting capacity as the CJN, following the retirement of his predecessor, Mahmud Mohammed, critics of the President have been calling on him to office submit his name to the Senate.