A Lagos-based constitutional lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, has asked a Federal High Court, Abuja, to decide whether due process was observed in the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
On 25th of January, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, pursuant to an ex parte order of the Code of the Conduct Tribunal suspended Onnoghen and appointed Justice Tanko Muhammed as the Acting CJN.
NAN reports that the lawyer, suing through Registered Trustees of Malcom Omirhobo Foundation, urged the court to declare the said suspension of Onnoghen as unlawful and unconstitutional.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/109/2019, the plaintiff joined as defendant: The Attorney General of the Federation, the Senate, National Judicial Council (NJC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Mohammed Tanko and Onnoghen.
The plaintiff asked the court to decide whether the 1999 Constitution being the Supreme Law of Nigeria, and regulating the three arms of government had been suspended.
He also wanted the court to decide whether in interpreting Sections 153(1) (i) (2), 158 , 231(1)(4), 292(1) (a)(i) and part I (I) of the third schedule of the 1999 constitution, the suspension and removal of the CJN was in compliance with due process of the law.
He sought for the court’s decision on whether the appointment of an acting CJN to replace Onnoghen was in compliance with due process of law, and whether it was proper, lawful, legal, constitutional and democratic.
The plaintiff, therefore, wanted the court to declare that the 1999 Constitution was the Supreme Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that the defendants have no powers under the constitution to suspend the CJN.
He also asked for a declaration that the CJN can only be removed from office, on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate, adding that the removal from office of Onnoghen, is without due process of law.
The plaintiff, therefore, sought for an order revoking or setting aside the appointment and swearing in of the acting CJN.
Besides, he wanted an order, compelling the defendants to comply with the principle of Separation of Powers, Judicial independence and the Rule of law.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the new suit.