ABUJA – Senate of the Federal Republic yesterday confirmed nomination of Cross Rivers born Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Sounding the gavel to seal the unanimous “ayes”, approval from the senators, presiding Senate President Bukola Saraki enjoined the new CJN to braze up to current challenges of the bench.
The Senate President also looked forward to better working relationship between the Legislature, which he noted, makes the laws and the Judiciary, that interprets the laws.
This put to rest agitations that have trailed his acting appointment which expired at first instance without President Mohammadu Buhari forwarding his name to the National Assembly for confirmation.
The about 66 years old number-one judicial officer who has about four more years to administer the country’s judicial system.
With this appointment, the South-South geopolitical zone is producing a Chief Justice of the Federation of Nigeria 30 years after Delta State born Justice Ayo Irikefe.
Late Justice Irikefe had held sway from 1985 to 1987 and his eight successors were from the Northern part of Nigeria.
However, Justice Onnoghen had promised delivering a judiciary of strong-willed and of unquestionable integrity, stressing that the judiciary would come out of the current situation stronger.
Fielding questions from the red chamber, Justice Onnoghen noted that the judiciary was part of the society as such, it was not amenable to corruption that is everywhere.
He however assured that efforts were being made to keep the judiciary afloat and make it the hope of common man in effect.
Moreso, the new CJN frowned at the attitudes of politicians who appeal cases to the Supreme Court even when they know that their cases ended at the Appeal Court.
To this end he declared that the court has decided that lawyers who mislead their clients to the Supreme Court would henceforth be made to fund the proceedings.
He also warned against politicising the judiciary, noting that if you politicise the judiciary that would be the end of the country.
Justice Onnoghen’s name was forwarded to the Senate on February 8 for confirmation as a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Justice Onnoghen has been in acting capacity since November 10, 2016, when he was so appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, following the retirement of Mahmud Mohammed.
Onnoghen, 66, was born in Kruiku Town, Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State.
He bagged his Law degree from the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1977 before his BL certificate at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, in 1978.
He started his career as a Pupil State Counsel in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, in 1979, after which he ventured into private practice.
In 1989, he returned to public service as judge in the High Court of his native Cross River State.
He joined the federal judicial service in 1998 as Justice of the Court Appeal, a position he held until 2005 when he was elevated to the Supreme Court.