The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, and the acting CJN, Tanko Muhammad will on March 5 face a five-man probe panel constituted by the National Judicial Council, NJC and headed by Justice Sunday Akinola Akintan, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, to defend themselves against allegations of fraud and misconduct filed against them.
While Justice Onnoghen will be answering questions on charges leveled by the Federal Government through the office of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation as well as another by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Justice Tanko Muhammad will also respond to queries based on the petition filed against him by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN and another by the Action People’s Party (APP).
Saturday Sun gathered that the two most senior judicial officers may have it tough on the scheduled date before the probe panel because of the antecedents of Justice Akintan. Born on December 15, 1938, Justice Akintan is from Idanre in Ondo state. He was also in the five-man election tribunal panel headed by Justice Joseph Olakunle Orojo that reversed the controversial victory of Chief Akin Omoboriowo in the 1983 governorship election in Ondo state in favour of Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin. The judgement was upheld up to the Supreme Court.
A highly placed source in NJC told Saturday Sun that “all logistics and arrangements have been put in place for the five-man committee to start their sitting at the Supreme Court complex here in Abuja on Tuesday March 5 and the respected Justice Akintan has equally given his commitment and the preparedness of members of his committee to handle the assignment expeditiously.”
The National Judicial Council (NJC) had two weeks ago constituted the five-man committee to investigate the various petitions against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, and the acting CJN, Tanko Muhammad. The panel according to the NJC’s Information Director, Soji Oye, is, “To work expeditiously, determine all the petitions and responses and report to Council for a final decision”.
“In continuation of its emergency meeting, the National Judicial Council accepted the result of the preliminary assessment of the petitions against Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, and Justice I. T. Muhammad, that the petitions were worthy of further investigation and should not be terminated under Rule 17 of the Judicial Discipline Regulations of the Council. Consequently, the council constituted a five-member Investigation Committee pursuant to Rule 20 (1) of the Judicial Discipline Regulations under the Chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice S. A. Akintan, CON, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria”, the statement read in part.