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Senate takes president to court over Onnoghen’s suspension

By Charles Kalu

The Nigerian Senate has dragged the Executive to the Supreme Court seeking an order to reinstate Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Senate’ s decision is coming after it cancelled its scheduled plenary billed for Tuesday 29 January 2019.

The Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, who announced the cancellation in a statement signed by him, did not give reasons for the action. He explained that the Senators would resume on February 19.

However, the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a statement explained that the cancellation was due to a last-minute decision by the Senate leadership to seek judicial interpretation to Onnoghen’s suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday.

In the suit, the Senate asked the apex court to declare the suspension of Onnoghen without support of two-thirds majority of the Senate as a violation of section 292(1)(a)(i) of the constitution.

The suit also asked the apex court to issue an order restraining the two defendants in the suit – President Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, from continuing or repeating the violation of the constitution and disregarding the power of the Senate in respect to the suspension of the CJN.

The three prayers sought by the Senate read, “A declaration that the suspension, by the President, of Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen from his office as Chief Justice of Nigeria on or about January 25, 2019, without an address calling for the removal, supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate is in violation of section 292(1)(a)(i) of the constitution and therefore null and void.

“An order rescinding or setting aside the suspension of Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen from his office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and restoring him to the said office.

“An order restraining the defendants from continuing or repeating the violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and disregarding the powers of the Senate at the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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