NJC Recommends Compulsory Retirement Of Suspended CJN, Onnoghen
The National Judicial Council (NJC) on Wednesday, recommended the compulsory retirement of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Walter Onnoghen, based on “incontrovertible” findings on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC).
It asked President Muhammadu Buhari to give effect to the recommendation immediately.
But the NJC urged the President to allow Justice Onnoghen retain his seat as a former CJN in the Council of State.
The council also said the CJN should be retired with full benefits.
According to a source, who pleaded not to be named “because of the sensitivity of the matter”, the compulsory retirement of Justice Onnoghen was the major highlight of NJC’s meeting yesterday.
All NJC members were said to have decided not to comment on the meeting because “it would not be right to do so when a letter has been sent to the President on their decision.” He should get the letter before any comment, the source said.
The source said: “The NJC has been able to navigate the most challenging moment for the nation’s judiciary by recommending compulsory retirement of Onnoghen with full benefits.
“The NJC specifically demanded that the CJN be allowed to take his eminent position in the Council of State like his predecessors.
“If these recommendations are accepted, the Executive may be on the same page with the Judiciary by staying action on the ongoing trial and other pending trials of the CJN.”
The NJC may have adopted a “win-win approach” to ensure that the Executive and the Judiciary are on the same page.”
Another source familiar with how the NJC arrived at its decision said the “EFCC’s report on Justice Onnoghen was damning and incontrovertible”.
The anti-graft agency accused the CJN of “being in possession of funds which are fairly not attributable to his known, provable and legitimate source of income”.
The opening of a dollar account in Standard Chartered Bank for the CJN by a lawyer, Joe Agi, with $30,000 was said to be unhealthy.
The EFCC had accused Justice curious deposits in his accounts.
The anti-graft commission alleged that deposits had accumulated to $1,716, 000.
The amounts in the said account were deposited as follows: $74,200 (2009); $291,800 (2010); $340,000 (2011); $625,000 (2012); $298,000 (2013); $40,000 (2015) and $47,000 (2016). The total was $1,716,000.