What The Law stipulates On The Removal Of the CJN

The suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Nkanu Onnoghen has elicited a lot of reactions from Nigerians today with many contesting that it was against the law and some others saying otherwise.

We have now gone into the law books to examine what the constitution stipulates on the Removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Surprisingly, the Law make no clear distinction between the removal and Suspension of the CJN as both terms have very different meanings.

We gathered that Section (292) of the Nigerian constitution expantiates on the removal of certain public officials including the CJN. However, there is no distinction between a suspension and permanent removal.

It States;

“A judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances;

(a) in the case of –

“Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.”

(ii) Chief Judge of a State, Grand Kadi of a Sharia Court of Appeal or President of a Customary Court of Appeal of a State, by the Governor acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the State,

Praying that he be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct;

(b) in any case, other than those to which paragraph (a) of this subsection applies, by the President or, as the case may be, the Governor acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council that the judicial officer be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.”

Thus, a serving Chief Justice of Nigeria can only be removed from office by the president after at least two-thirds majority members of the Senate declare support for the move, but in this case, it is a suspension.

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