***Summary: If Buhari rig himself in or lose to opposition – either way, and the case goes to court, the supreme court is the last point of verdict. So CJN must go for Buhari’s loyalist.
The Federal Government has filed a motion before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, asking for the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, be removed as the CJN and the chairman of the National Judicial Council.
According to documents obtained by Saturday Punch, the motion was filed by Musa Ibrahim and Fatima Danjuma Ali on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation on Thursday.
The move, according to the government, is aimed at ensuring that Onnoghen is not a judge in his case and that the next in line of seniority, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, becomes the acting CJN pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The plaintiff asked the court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to name the next most senior judge as the acting CJN and chairman of the NJC.
Opposition alleges move to arrest Onnoghen on Tuesday
Meanwhile, the opposition political parties on Friday claimed they had uncovered a plan by the Federal Government to arrest Onnoghen on Tuesday.
The first national spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties, Imo Ugochinyere, made the claim at a press conference in Abuja on Friday.
Ugochinyere said the arrest would be carried out shortly after a bench warrant would have been issued by the CCT against Onnoghen.
He added that arrangements had been concluded to immediately name Justice Justice Ibrahim Muhammad as acting CJN.
He said Nigeria’s democracy was currently in danger.
“Members of the cabal in the Presidency have just concluded a meeting last night (Thursday) where they have now set the stage to burn down the institution of democracy and constitutional governance for the purpose of achieving a narrow aim of annexing the judiciary.
“Just a few hours after our release of the secret letter directing the freezing of the account of the CJN illegally without a court order, these men have at the end of their meeting last (Thursday) night directed the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, to disregard the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja which had directed the tribunal to maintain status quo.
“They have asked him to go ahead to issue a bench warrant on the next adjourned date being Tuesday, January 22 in the event the CJN does not appear in court. The meeting of the Presidency cabal also resolved and directed the new Acting Inspector-General of Police that the immediate arrest of the CJN on the same Tuesday as effort will be made to ensure he is served with the order same day, following the issuance of the arrest warrant would be his litmus test for his speedy confirmation as the substantive Inspector-General,” he said.
Ugochinyere alleged that the meeting also resolved that a fresh petition against Onnoghen would immediately be forwarded to the National Judicial Council.
He said the strategy was to force the CJN out of office and pave the way for Justice Ibrahim Muhammad who is the deputy chairman of the NJC to take over and do all their bidding.