Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen has been sworn in as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Onnoghen took over from Justice Mahmud Mohammed who bowed out yesterday after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70 years. He will act until confirmed by the Senate, upon submission of his name by the president.
Speaking after his inauguration inside the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja, Onnoghen assured President Buhari of “the fullest cooperation of the third arm of government in the continuation of the war against corruption and misconduct in the judiciary.”
He said while he intended to carry on from where his predecessors stopped, he would “modify certain areas” with the ultimate aim of having a better judiciary befitting the nation.
Onnoghen, who described his inauguration as overwhelming, thanked God for making it possible and the president for the confidence reposed in him, saying “by the grace of God, we shall succeed.”
You’re taking over at a trying time – Buhari
Earlier, President Buhari told Justice Onnoghen that he was taking over at a trying time for the country, charging him to play in constitutional role as expected.
The president said he was honoured to bid the Justice Mohammed goodbye and to congratulate him for the time he spent “in the highly respected position.”
“I congratulate the new acting CJN to come at a time that the institution that he is going to head, to play his role of the constitutional body after the executive and the legislature at this trying time for our nation. Trying time in the sense of the three identifiable problems this country is facing: physical security, the problem of economy and corruption.
“In this room contains the constitutional bodies that are responsible for the bringing Nigeria back to life in terms of security and managing it efficiently while making sure that the economy is resuscitated and that security of doing business at all stages in the country is free and fair,” he stated.
The president wished the former CJN the best of luck in his retirement; and the acting CJN, “a successful tour of this vital constitutional body of our country.”
Corruption is everywhere – Mohammed
Addressing State House correspondents after the inauguration, Justice Mohammed acknowledged that there was corruption in the judiciary, adding that “corruption is everywhere.”
He said the cooperation of all Nigerians was needed “to fish out those corrupt elements within us so that we could fight with vigour to deliver a clean judiciary for the nation.”
Mohammed said the citizens’ cooperation would also help in the fight against corruption, “in revamping the economy for the interest of this nation in order to secure economy all over because the judiciary has a big role to play in every aspect of our lives.”
Thenigerialawyer reports that the Nigerian judiciary has come under the spotlight following the arrests of some judges and officials by the Department of State Services (DSS) over allegations of corruption. The federal government has since filed charges against some of the judges and officials.