Updated: Buhari, NJC extend Tanko Muhammad’s tenure as acting CJN

President Muhammadu Buhari, with the consent of the National Judicial Council, has extended Justice Tanko Muhammad’s tenure as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria by another three months, SUNDAY PUNCH can report.

Our correspondent gathered that the NJC quietly conceded to Buhari’s request for the extension of the acting CJN’s tenure at its meeting held between Wednesday and Thursday.

The council, which is also chaired by Muhammad in acting capacity, did not issue a statement announcing its decision.

Muhammad’s first three-month acting tenure which started when he was sworn in on January 25 following the President’s suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the CJN, expires on April 25 (Thursday).

Buhari had appointed Muhammad in acting capacity without the input of the NJC, but section 231(5) of the Nigerian Constitution makes it mandatory that he must be recommended by the NJC before the President can re-appoint him to continue acting after the expiration of the first three months.

Our correspondent learnt that the President had written the NJC requesting the council’s consent to extend Muhammad’s acting tenure for another three months.

 

The NJC was learnt to have considered the President’s request and granted it at its two-day meeting held between Wednesday and Thursday.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Thursday that the President’s request was par NJC’s meeting had the matter on its agenda.

A presidential source told PUNCH, on Saturday, “Aware of the need to avert vacuum in the office of the CJN and the long process involved in the appointment of a substantive CJN, the President had written the NJC requesting the council’s consent to re-appoint Justice Tanko Muhammad in acting capacity pending when the process of the substantive appointment would be completed.

“The NJC sat between Wednesday and Thursday and granted the President’s request.

“The NJC had since communicated its decision to the President.”

Asked why Muhammad did not take a fresh oath of office, one of the top sources said the oath he took at his swearing in on January 25, would cover his acting period.

Following Onnoghen’s reported resignation on April 4 and his subsequent conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal with a sentence removing him from office as the CJN on Thursday, Muhammad as the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, has been positioned to take over as the substantive CJN.

However, the extension of his acting tenure was said to have been done to buy time for the completion of the constitutional procedure for his substantive appointment.

 

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