Afenifere, the Pan Yoruba socio–cultural group, has given President Muhammad Buhari, a nine–day ultimatum to forward the name of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Nkanu Walter Onnoghen to the National Assembly for immediate confirmation.
Yesterday, after its monthly meeting held at the country home of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti in Akure, Afenifere said it was disturbed over the failure of the President to confirm Justice Onnoghen as new CJN, describing it as an assault on the nation’s constitution.
In a communiqué delivered by the Group’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, it said: “The Afenifere is worried that almost four days to the expiration of the three months tenure in acting capacity allowed by our constitution, the President has refused to forward the recommendations of the NJC (National Judicial Council) to the National Assembly for confirmation. We see this as an assault on the constitution if the three months expire and he is not confirmed as CJN of Nigeria. It will be an assault on our constitution and an attempt to crudely end a career of a worthy Nigerian.”
The group therefore called on the President to within the few days left of his tenure in acting capacity, send his name to the Senate for confirmation as he is the man in line as stipulated in the constitution.
Chapter 7 section 31 (1) of the constitution reads: “The appointment of a person to the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria, shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation by the Senate.” It will be recalled that the NJC had an October 6, 2016 recommended Justice Walter Onnoghen to President Buhari to succeed Justice Mahmud Mohammed who exited last year after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.
The group also called on the Federal government to constitute a committee that will see to the restructuring of the country. Afenifere also expressed worry over what it called “mass killings in Southern Kaduna, Middle Belt communities, Igboland, Oke-Ogun in Oyo State and other parts of the country. While reiterating its call for the implementation of the 2014 National conference report, the meeting also resolved to constitute a high-powered committee to rouse the Yoruba Nation to work on the urgency of how to insist that Nigeria be restructured before the next elections because, according to it, “we cannot afford to continue to slide dangerously on the part of anarchy.” The communiqué continued: “The main focus is to get all hands on deck for the mobilization towards the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference which was submitted to the Federal Executive Council, that is the minimum we demand.”
In a related development, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution (CDNDC) in a statement by its convener, Ariyo–Dare Arioye, has said that any attempt by the current leadership to alter the existing tradition of appointing the CJN and other judiciary heads to suit ethnic interests will spell doom for Nigeria.
According to the group, the consequences of ethnicizing and politicizing the judiciary will bring Nigeria to her knees. “We must never allow this cycle of impunity into our judicial system. When justice becomes ethnicized at the Supreme Court level to serve executive interest, we can as well kiss this country goodbye.” CDNDC said.