Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen

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Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen
Chief Justice of Nigeria
In office
March 6, 2017 – January 25, 2019
Nominated byYemi Osinbajo (when acting as president) and suspended on 25 January 2019 by President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Mohammadu Buhari due to alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers
Preceded byMahmud Mohammed
Succeeded byIbrahim Tanko Muhammad
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Assumed office
2005
Nominated byOlusegun Obasanjo
Personal details
Born (1950-12-22) 22 December 1950 (age 68)
Okurike Town, Biase, Cross River
CitizenshipNigerian
NationalityNigerian
Spouse(s)Nkoyo Walter-Onnoghen
Children4
FatherNkanu Onnoghen
EducationUniversity of Ghana (Bachelor of Laws)
Nigerian Law School
OccupationSupreme Court justice

Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON (born 22 December 1950[1]) is the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria .[2][3] Before joining the Supreme Court, he was a judge in Cross River State and a justice of the Court of Appeal.

Early Life and Education[edit]

Walter Onnoghen was born on the 22 December 1950 at Okurike Town, Biase Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State.[1]

Onnoghen had his primary school education at the Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike Town between 1959 and 1965. From there, he proceeded to Accra in Ghana, obtaining his West African Examination Council (WAEC) O-Level certificate from Odorgonno Senior High School between 1967 and 1972,and his WAEC (A-Levels) at Accra Academy between 1972 and 1974.He graduated from the University of Ghana at Legon, Ghana in 1977 and from the Nigerian Law School in Lagos in 1978.[1]

Career[edit]

Before his appointment as the Chief Justice of the Federation, he worked with the Ministry of Justice, Ikeja, Lagos, Ogun State between 1978-1979, as the Pupil State Counsel. When he left Ministry of Justice, he went to partner in the Law firm of Effiom Ekong & Company, Calabar between 1979 – 1988. He later became the Principal Partner/Head of Chamber of Walter Onnoghen & Associates, Calabar from the period of 1988 – 1989.

Between 1989 – 1998, he was a High Court Judge of Cross Rivers State Judiciary. During his time as the High Court Judge of Cross Rivers State Judiciary he was made the Chairman of Cross Rivers State Armed Robbery and Firm Arms Tribunal and he held the post for 3 years between 1990 – 1993. Sometime in 1996 while still holding the post of High Court Judge of Cross Rivers State Judiciary, he was appointed the Chairman, Judicial Enquiry into the Crisis between Students of the University of Calabar and Obufa Esuk Orok Community, Calabar. In 1998, he was the Chairman, Failed Bank Tribunal, Ibadan Zone. Between the period of 1992 to 2004, he served as the Judge, High Court of Rivers State while from 1998 to 2005 he served as the Justice of the Court of Appeal.

In February 2016, Justice Onnoghen led a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court who reviewed and upheld the death sentence of Chukwuemeka Ezeugo (aka Rev. King) of the Christain Praying Assembly. In 2007, Justice Onnoghen played a huge role in 2007 election which saw the Late Umaru Yar’adua as President of the federal republic of Nigeria. He had a dissenting judgment that indeed annulled the presidential election. His position was however a minority judgment.

Appointment as CJN[edit]

After being nominated as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, he was confirmed by the Senate on 1 March 2017, and sworn in on 7 March 2017.

Suspension as CJN[edit]

Onnoghen's trials started when a petition was filed by the civil rights group at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) alleging that he owns ” sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself up to as recently as 10 August 2016, which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.”[4] The allegations are listed here.

The trial commenced January 14, 2019 at Code of Conduct Tribunal but Onnoghen was absent[5]. It was then adjourned to the following week because Onnoghen faulted the summons procedure[6]. The next hearing was slated for January 22, 2019 but he failed to show up in court again[7]. Following his absence again, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended him 26 January and appointed Tanko Ibrahim as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria[8].

His office was thereafter sealed by the police[9] and members of the National Interest Defenders and Lawyers protested at the entrance of the National Secretariat of the Nigerian Bar Association[10]. His suspension caused a lot of uproar from political stakeholders, lawyers and even gained international prominence from International bodies[11][12][13]. Atiku described his suspension as ‘Dictatorship Taken Too Far'[14]. Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, accused those criticizing President Buhari over Onnoghen suspension as hypocrites[15].

On 28 January 2019, the Code of Conduct Tribunal adjourned his trial indefinitely[16].

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Justice Walter Samuel Nkwanu Onnoghen". Nigeria Governance Project KYG. 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "African biographies". The News. Independent Communication Network Ltd. 29: 27. 2007.
  3. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/nigeria-president-appoints-acting-chief-justice/2019/01/25/bbbbaf4c-20cc-11e9-a759-2b8541bbbe20_story.html
  4. ^ "Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB)". Oak TV Newstrack. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Update: CJN, Walter Onnoghen shuns CCT trial". Oak TV Newstrack. 14 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  6. ^ "CJN,Onnoghen defends absence from CCT, faults appearance notice". Oak TV Newstrack. 14 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  7. ^ "BREAKING: Again, Onnoghen absent form court as CCT begins hearing". Oak TV Newstrack. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  8. ^ "President Buhari suspended embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria". Oak TV Newstrack. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Breaking: Police seals Onnoghen's Office". Oak TV Newstrack. 28 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Breaking: Protest at NBA Secretariat over Onnoghen, Tanko Mohammed". Oak TV Newstrack. 28 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  11. ^ "SERAP issued five days ultimatum to the National Judicial Council". Oak TV Newstrack. 27 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Timing of Onnoghen's suspension gives cause for concern – UK govt". Oak TV Newstrack. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  13. ^ "NBA rejects Onnoghen's suspension, says it's a coup". Oak TV Newstrack. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Atiku Abubakar, PDP, has described suspension of Walter Onnoghen". Oak TV Newstrack. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Lai Mohammed, says those criticising President Buhari". Oak TV Newstrack. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  16. ^ "Breaking: CCT adjourns Onnoghen's Trial indefinitely". Oak TV Newstrack. 28 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.