Onnoghen’s counsels discontinue suit against Buhari, Ag CJN

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Following the resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen last Thursday , 25 lawyers who had filed suit challenging his suspension have approached the  Federal High Court in Abuja, praying it to discontinue  further hearing.

The suit had challenged what they termed as illegal suspension of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The plaintiffs, led by human rights activist, Mr Johnmary Jideobi, said they decided to discontinue the suit after they got information that Justice Onnoghen had succumbed to pressure and voluntarily tendered a resignation letter to the 1st defendant, President Buhari.

They told the court that pursuing the legal action to its logical conclusion would amount to “crying more than the bereaved,” notwithstanding the fact that the matter was earlier fixed to be heard on May 23.

The lawyers have on January 26 this year sued President Buhari, National Judicial Council, NJC, the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, and the suspended CJN, Justice Onnoghen in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/113/2019.

They had claimed in a 30-paragraph affidavit that was deposed to by the 1st Plaintiff that President Buhari acted beyond his powers by suspending Onnoghen without recourse to the NJC.

Therefore, prayed the high court to determine, “Whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153(1) (i) paragraph 21(a) of the 3rd Schedule and Sections 271, 291, 292 and 231 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [and especially in view of the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb vs. AGF (2012) 13 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 1318);], there exists any authority in the 1st Defendant (Buhari) to suspend the 4th Defendant (Onnoghen) as the Chief Justice of Nigeria?

Secondly: “Whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153(1) (i) paragraph 21(a) of the 3rd Schedule and Sections 271, 291, 292 and 231 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [and especially in view of the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb vs. AGF (2012) 13 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 1318);] the purported suspension of the 4th Defendant as the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the 1st Defendant on the 25th January, 2019 is not unconstitutional?”.

Upon determination of the questions, the Plaintiffs, asked the court to hold that President Buhari lacked the constitutional power to suspend Onnoghen as the CJN.

“A Declaration of this Honourable Court that by the combined interpretation of Section 153(1) (i) paragraph 21(a) of the 3rd Schedule and Sections 271, 291, 292 and 231 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [and especially in view of the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb vs. AGF (2012) 13 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 1318);] the purported suspension of the 4th Defendant as the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the 1st Defendant on the 25th January, 2019 is of no legal force, unconstitutional and a nullity.

“An orders of this honourable court quashing and setting aside [as being unconstitutional and of no legal force] the purported suspension of the 4th Defendant by the 1st Defendant.

“An order of this honourable court restoring the 4th Defendant forthwith to his office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

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