How two of three CCT members ordered Onnoghen’s suspension

The suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the subsequent swearing in of Justice Tanko Muhammad in acting capacity, was based on an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, President Muhammadu Buhari, has said.

The President said this while swearing in Justice Muhammad as acting Chief Judge on Friday.

A copy of the CCT’s order showed that the Chairman, Danladi Umar, and another member of the tribunal, Julie Anabor, made the order by granting an ex parte motion by the Federal Government earlier on Wednesday.

A member of the tribunal, who is next in rank to Umar, William Atedze, did not sign the order.

Atedze was the member of the tribunal who gave a dissenting opinion contrary to the majority ruling of the two other members of the tribunal who ruled that the trial of the CJN on charges of false assets declaration could not be stopped on the account of the orders issued by the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court.

The CCT’s order signed by Umar and Anabor directed Onnoghen, who is facing six counts of false assets declaration before the tribunal to step aside and ordered Buhari to swear in the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Tanko Muhammad in acting capacity.

The order read in part, “It is hereby ordered as follows: That the defendant/respondent shall step aside as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council over allegation of Contravening the provisions of the code of Conducts and Tribunal Act CAP C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the Motion on notice dated 10th January 2019.

“That the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall take all necessary measure to swear in the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council in order to prevent a vacuum in the judicial arm of government pending the determination of the motion on notice.

“This matter is hereby adjourned to January 29,  2019 for hearing.

“Issued at Abuja under the Hand and Seal of the Honorable Chairman and Member of this Honourable Tribunal this 23th Day of January 2019 By Hon Danladi Y. Umar, Hon. Chairman, and Mrs. Julie A. Anabor Hon Member II.”

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