The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has said that the suspended Justice Walter Onnoghen, remains the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Justice Muhammad said this while responding to a query given to him by the National Judiciary Council (NJC).
Muhammad had also said that he would step aside once the Code of Conduct Tribunal or the Appeal Court reverses Onnoghen’s matter.
Justice Muhammad said that President Muhammadu Buhari did not need to seek the permission of the NJC in appointing him as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, adding that the NJC comes in when a substantive CJN is being appointed or re-appointed.
“It was for the larger interest of the judiciary and the constitutionality that I accepted to be sworn in as acting CJN with the conviction that if the order of January 23, 2019 is eventually set aside, the status quo would be restored.
“But before it is set aside, there should be no vacuum in the office of the CJN and the chairman of the NJC.
“On the 25th day of January, the President swore me in as the acing CJN and not as the substantive CJN. Justice Walter Onnoghen remains the CJN until he is removed from office in accordance with the provision of the constitution. He is only suspended,” he said.
Muhammad appealed to the NJC to throw aside the petition written against him by the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.
The group had written a petition to the NJC, demanding the removal of Muhammad as a justice of the Supreme Court.
They said Muhammad compromised by allowing himself to be sworn in by the President without recourse to the NJC.