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A report by Thisday has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to accept the recommendation of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). This is in spite of the incumbent CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed having less than a week to complete his tenure as the head of the judiciary.
Justice Mohammed will retire on Thursday, when he will turn 70, the mandatory retirement age for justices of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, October 11, the National Judicial Council had recommended Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen for consideration as CJN.
The NJC acted on the provisions of of Section 231 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which states: “The appointment of a person to the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), subject to confirmation of such appointment by the Senate.”
If his name is submitted and he is confirmed by the Senate, Onnoghen will be the first person from the southern section of the country to occupy the post in almost three decades. Justice Ayo Irikife was the last southerner to occupy the post of the CJN between 1985 and 1987.

Onnoghen is highly favoured to emerge as the next CJN as the practice has always been to appoint the most senior Supreme Court justice to the position. Although, in law, the president is not bound to accept his nomination, but he (the president) cannot bypass the NJC in taking the decision.
The president is also at liberty to ask the NJC to recommend to him another suitable candidate for the office, if he does not accept Onnonoghen’s nomination.
As at the time of this report, the Senate was yet to receive any letter from the president regarding the appointment of a new CJN. Last week, the outgoing CJN blamed the Buhari government for its failure to act on recommendations by the NJC.
Justice Mohammed made the statement while responding to a query by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project on why the NJC has for many years failed to appropriately deal with several cases of corrupt judges.

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