The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, Thursday called on Nigerians to give President Muhammadu Buhari time as he ponders on his confirmation as the substantive Chief Justice.
Mr. Onnoghen made the appeal in a statement by his media aide, Awassam Bassey.
“Nigerians should allow President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, a free hand to perform his constitutional duties concerning the appointment of a substantive chief justice of Nigeria,” he said in a statement issued on his behalf by Awassam Bassey, his media aide.
“Honourable Justice Onnoghen believes the president does not need any threat or ultimatum to perform his constitutional duties and therefore dissociates himself from those individuals and groups making such demands on the president.”
Onnoghen expressed gratitude to Nigerians for the interest they have shown in the issue, but maintained that issuing ultimatum amounts to disrespect for the “exalted” office of the president.
“However, the acting chief justice of Nigeria and the Nigerian judiciary sincerely appreciate the interest of Nigerians towards the appointment of a substantive chief justice of Nigeria to oversee the affairs of the judiciary as the third arm of government, but believes that issuing an ultimatum to Mr. President appears to be going too far and smacks of disrespect for the exalted office of the president,” the statement read.
“The acting chief justice therefore appeals for caution on the issue of the appointment of chief justice of Nigeria as Mr President goes about his constitutional duties, especially considering the fact that the given time for him to act as Chief Justice of Nigeria has not expired.
“In conclusion, the Acting Chief Justice wishes to thank all Nigerians for their support and continued prayers while calling on them to back the federal government in the fight to make the country a better place for all.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has come under intense pressure in recent days over his delay in submitting Mr. Onnoghen’s name to Senate for confirmation as Substantive Chief Justice, almost three months since he was appointed in acting capacity.
The latest criticism came earlier on Thursday, from Col. Abubakar Umar, former military governor of Kaduna state who accused the President of being pro- north and urged the senate not to confirm any nominee for the position of chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) apart from Onnoghen.