The National Judicial Council (NJC) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for accepting the voluntary retirement of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The NJC gave the commendation at its emergency meeting on Monday, during which members deliberated on the President’s decision in relation to Onnoghen’s exit from the Bench.
President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu had, in a statement on Sunday, said “President Buhari has accepted the voluntary retirement from service of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, effective from May 28, 2019.
“The President thanked Justice Onnoghen for his service to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and wished him the best of retirement life.”
NJC’s spokesman, Soji Oye said, in a statement on Monday that members of the judicial body noted that Buhari’s acceptance of Onnoghen’s retirement was in line with its recommendation to the President on 3rd April, 2019.
The statement reads: “The National Judicial Council held an Emergency Meeting today to take formal note of the acceptance of the voluntary retirement of Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON, as Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“The President’s acceptance of the retirement is in line with Council’s recommendation to the President on 3rd April, 2019.
“Council at the end of its deliberations thanked the President for the acceptance which was in the best interest of Nigeria.”
He claims by the NJC that Buhari’s acceptance of Onnoghen’s retirement was part of its recommendations creates doubt as to the actual position of the NJC on the issue.
The NJC had, after concluding its investigation of allegations of “financial impropriety and infidelity to the constitution” raised against Onnoghen in a petition by the economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), kept sealed lips on its findings, but announced that it has sent its recommendations to the President.
In their recent response to a suit by the Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation, challenging Buhari’s appointment of Justice Ibrahim Muhammad as acting CJN, the President and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation disclosed that the NJC recommended Onnghen’s compulsory retirement.
They stated that NJC’s recommendation that Onnoghen be compulsory retired preceded his retirement letter to the President on April 4, 2019.