The Supreme Court has thrown out a suit filed by the Cross Rivers State Government to challenge the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended the former CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen in January, by an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Cross Rivers State Government approached the Supreme Court with a request that the apex court should invoke section 232 (1) of the constitution to assume original jurisdiction on the matter.
But in a judgment on Friday, by a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because the Attorney General of Cross-River State, in whose name the suit was instituted, lacked the requisite locus standi to initiate the case.
Consequently, the court dismissed the application.
Justice Paul Galumje, who read out the majority judgment authored by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, said the Supreme Court was not the appropriate forum to ventilate whatever grievances the plaintiff may have in relation to the cause of action. The majority judgment upheld the preliminary objection raised against the suit by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and struck out it (the suit) without examining the merit, on the grounds that it had earlier held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
The minority judgement as presented by Justice Mary Odili, however, differed from that of Justice Ariwoola. Justice Odili held that Cross Rivers State, Onnoghen’s home state, has the locus standi to sue and that the Supreme Court is the appropriate forum to institute such suit.
Justice Odili further held that the January 23, 2019 ex-parte of the CCT, on which President Buhari relied on to suspend Onnoghen, was unlawful, because the tribunal had no jurisdiction, in the first place, to entertain the charge brought against the ex-CJN by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
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