The Supreme Court said on Monday that the exit of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has not caused any division among its judges and management of the court.
Onnoghen reportedly resigned last Thursday barely 24 hours after the National Judicial Council submitted its recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of its investigation into allegations of misconduct levelled against him.
But the Supreme Court, through a statement by its Director, Press and Information, Dr. Festus Akande, said the exit of the top judicial officer had not caused any division within its judges and management ranks.
The statement was issued to debunk a report titled, ‘Onnoghen’s Exit Splits Supreme Court,’ reported by a newspaper on Sunday.
The statement read in part, “Our attention has been drawn to a publication with the title, “Onnoghen’s Exit Splits Supreme Court,” on page four of Sunday Tribune of April 7, 2019.
“It is necessary to state categorically clear that the publication is false and misleading in its entirety.
“There is no iota of truth in the story, as every word in it only exists in the realm of rumour and mischief.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria is one big, indivisible judicial family that is not in any way governed by religious, tribal or parochial influence or sentiments.”
Bauchi State-born Justice Tanko Muhammad has been in the saddle as the Acting CJN since January 23, 2019 when Buhari, on the basis of an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, suspended Justice Onnoghen, who hails from Cross River State.
The Supreme Court insisted in its statement on Monday that judicial appointments were never based on religious or tribal affiliation, adding that Justices of the court and management of the court remained united.
It stated, “For the umpteenth time, let it be known to all and sundry that no judicial officer is appointed on account of religious or tribal affiliation, as such, the discharge of their Judicial obligations cannot be dictated by such extraneous considerations.
“As it has always been, the Supreme Court justices and the entire management are united, cohesive and indivisible in the quest to move the Court to an enviable height.
“Members of the public are always enjoined to crosscheck their facts from the Court, using the Freedom of Information window, to avoid rushing to the media to exhibit their ignorance.”
The statement maintained that the “judicial oath taken by all the justices of the Court has already initiated a potent sacred bond to regulate and conscientise the conducts of their Lordships in the discharge of their Judicial functions”.