The Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC, has okayed Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.
Onnoghen who is presently the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, was nominated by the judicial body to take over from the current CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed who will step down on November 10, upon clocking the 70 years mandatory retirement age.
Meanwhile, the FJSC, last week, forwarded Justice Onnoghen’s name to the National Judicial Council, NJC, which will in turn, forward same to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Though section 231(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, conferred on President Buhari the power to appoint a CJN on the recommendation of the NJC, it however stressed that such appointment must be subject to confirmation by the Senate.
According to section 231(3), “A person shall not be qualified to hold the office of the CJN or of a Justice of the Supreme Court, unless he is qualified to practise as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and had been so qualified for a period of not less than fifteen years”.
If President Buhari approves Onnoghen who hails from Cross-River State as the 17th CJN, he will become the first Southern jurist to head the judiciary in about 29 years.
Onnoghen will clock 70 on December 20, 2020.
Remarkably, Justice Ayo Gabriel Irikefe who retired in 1987 was the last Southern CJN.