President Muhammadu Buhari has written the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, on the appointment of additional five justices of the Supreme Court. The Presidency disclosed this, yesterday night, and added that the president has also accepted the voluntary retirement, from service, of Justice Walter Onnoghen, as CJN, effective May 28, 2019.
Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, quoted Buhari as saying: ‘‘Pursuant to the provisions of Section 230(2) A&B of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to request that you initiate in earnest the process of appointing additional five justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, to make the full complement of 21 justices, as provided by the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution. “This is in line with the government’s agenda of repositioning the Judiciary in general, and Supreme Court in particular, for greater efficiency, with a view to reducing the backlogs of appeals pending at the Supreme Court. “Please accept, your Lordship, the assurances of my highest regards.”
The president thanked Onnoghen for his service to the country and wished him the best of retirement life.
The NJC had recommended Onnoghen for compulsory retirement after deliberating on a petition by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleging “financial impropriety, infidelity to the constitution and other economic and financial crimes related laws”. His retirement benefits in cash and kind will cost taxpayers about N2.5 billion. As part of the package for retired chief justice, a house will be built for him in Abuja with a nine-digit sum for furnishing — in addition to a severance gratuity that is 300% of his annual basic salary of N3,363,972.50, as well as pension for life. He is also entitled to a number of domestic staff and sundry allowances for personal upkeep.