Image: The Guardian Nigeria

The Senate has confirmed the appointment of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), making him the first person from the southern part of the country to occupy the office in the last 30 years.

Onnoghen, who is from Cross River State was screened by all the Committee of the Senate on Wednesday.

At the screening, which lasted over one hour, Onnoghen addressed several issues raised by the lawmakers about Nigeria’s judiciary.

Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu taking charge of the debate, raised the issue of the time frame within which political matters were dealt with by the courts.

Onnoghen, in his response, said his appointment was subject to confirmation by the Senate as the nomination had already been done by the National Judicial Council.

He said: “The fear of me not exhibiting the uncommon courage that had earlier been exhibited; I assure you that I remain whom I have been on the bench right from the beginning and I intend to end that way by the special grace of God.”

The Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, also said there were some recent cases of corruption charges against some officials in the judiciary.

Onnoghen responded that there had been a “tremendous” improvement in the judiciary.

He explained that Wednesday had been set aside for a special panel, apart from the regular panel of the Supreme Court, to deal with pre-election matters.

Onnoghen said, “Already, as I came on board, for instance, I have passed different circulars to all the heads of the Nigerian judiciary in the country to send me details of pending matters on corruption, matters on terrorism and high profile criminal matters.

After the confirmation of Onnoghen, the Senate president, Bukola Saraki congratulated him.

In a statement on Wednesday, Saraki said Onnoghen’s confirmation has proven that any Nigerian can rise to any position he merits.

He said, “Today, we screened and cleared Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, CFR for confirmation as the Chief Justice of Nigeria. The screening represents a major milestone in the progress of our democratic process.

“I am pleased to note that all arms of government have played their parts exactly as envisaged in our constitution.

“On behalf of my distinguished colleagues, I congratulate Justice Walter Samuel Onnonghen, CFR, for his well deserved elevation to the highest judicial office in the land.

“This achievement should underscore the inspiring reality that a Nigerian can rise to any position he merits.

“We look forward to productive engagement between the legislature and judiciary under the leadership of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria.

“The Senate will collaborate with the two other arms to support critical reforms and other initiatives that will improve the integrity and the impact of the judiciary as put Nation deepens it’s democratic foundations in the lives of its citizens.

“On behalf of my colleagues, I wish Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, CFR, a most fruitful tenure as Chief Justice of Nigeria.”

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Author: Janet Johnson

Janet Johnson is a writer who is passionate about helping people and giving solutions to peoples’ needs and problems.
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