There may be a looming constitutional crisis on the horizon as the tenure of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Tanko ends in three weeks.
Mohammed was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2019, following an order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal that the substantive CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, be suspended and the next in line of seniority, be sworn in.
However, the constitution states that the President cannot re-appoint an acting CJN unless on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The acting CJN was asked to respond to a query on why he allowed himself to be sworn in by Buhari without the recommendation of the NJC as stipulated by the constitution.
Onnoghen has challenged his suspension before the Court of Appeal but the appellate court has withheld judgment for unknown reasons while the case before the CCT has been given an accelerated hearing.
Buhari will only be able to extend Justice Mohammed’s tenure if the NJC sends his name to the President for confirmation.
The President will subsequently be expected to send his name to the Senate for confirmation.
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, believed there would be no constitutional crisis because Nigeria always found its way out of such issues.
￼Ogunye added, “The point is when that time comes, a way would be found.
“The NJC that is still grappling with the issue of the treatment meted to Onnoghen, which is still considering petitions against him and that of the acting CJN for the fact that he presented himself to be appointed by the President, is that the same NJC that will have time that will be considering what will happen to him in three weeks?”