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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Senate Asks Supreme Court To Reinstate Onnoghen, Says Buhari Can’t Remove CJN

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The Senate on Monday filed a suit before the Supreme Court praying for among others, an order reinstating Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Punch report.
The Senate action came after it canceled its scheduled plenary earlier billed for Tuesday (today).

The Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Nelson Ayewoh, who announced the cancellation in a statement signed by him, did not give reasons for the action.
He only explained that the federal lawmakers would resume on February 19.
But the Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a statement explained that the cancellation was due to the last-minute decision by the Senate leadership to seek a judicial interpretation to Onnoghen’s suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.
In the suit marked SC.76/2019, the Senate asked the apex court to declare the suspension of Onnoghen without the support of two-thirds majority of the Senate as a violation of section 292(1)(a)(i) of the constitution.
The suit also asked the apex court to issue an order restraining the two defendants in the suit – President Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami – from continuing or repeating the violation of the constitution and disregarding the power of the Senate in respect to the suspension of the CJN. 
The three prayers sought by the Senate read,
“A declaration that the suspension, by the President, of Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen from his office as Chief Justice of Nigeria on or about January 25, 2019, without an address calling for the removal, supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate is in violation of section 292(1)(a)(i) of the constitution and therefore null and void.
“An order rescinding or setting aside the suspension of Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen from his office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and restoring him to the said office.
“An order restraining the defendants from continuing or repeating the violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and disregarding the powers of the Senate at the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Buhari had while announcing the suspension of Onnoghen hinged his decision on an ex parte order made by two of the three members of the Code of Conduct Tribunal where Onnoghen had been charged with six counts of non-declaration of assets.
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