The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
It was learnt that the NJC chose Justice Muhammad ahead of the second most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, who was interviewed with Justice Muhammad.
Justice Muhammad’s choice was said to have been in furtherance of the tradition of succession by seniority.
Justice Muhammad was appointed as acting CJN following the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen who was arraigned by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for some infractions in his assets declaration forms.
Justice Onnoghen was found guilty by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which recommended him for sack.
But the President later accepted the voluntary retirement which the former CJN tendered earlier while on suspension and before the conclusion of his trial by the CCT.
In a statement on Wednesday, NJC’s spokesman Soji Oye said the recommendation of Justice Muhammad for CJN was among many other decisions taken at the emergency meeting of the Council.
Oye said the NJC also recommended names of judges to be appointed as Chief Judges and Grand Kadis for Lagos, Sokoto, Anambra, Ebonyi, Niger, Taraba, Kano and Jigawa states.
For Lagos, the NJC recommended Justice Kazeem O. Alogba: Justice Muhammad S. Sifawa (Sokoto); Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu (Anambra); Justice Nwaigwe A. Anselm (Ebonyi); Justice Aliyu M. Mayaki (Niger) and Justice Filibus B. Andetur (Taraba).
The NJC recommended Justice Filibus B. Andetur for appointment as the Grand Khadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kano and Kadi Isa Jibrin Gantsa as the Grand Khadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Jigawa.
Oye said the newly appointed heads of courts would be sworn-in after the approval of the President and the Governors and confirmation by the Senate and state Houses of Assembly.
He said the NJC also received retirement notifications from the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; Chief Judges of Gombe, Edo, Niger and Ebonyi states.
Oye added that the NJC also received retirement notices from the Acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State and nine other judges from the Federal High Court and High Courts of Gombe, Delta, Edo, Imo, Benue and Katsina states.
The NJC, Oye said, commended Buhari for his unequivocal position on the financial autonomy for the states’ judiciary and called on the governors to, as a matter of urgency, begin its immediate implementation.
Oye added that the NJC was of the view that the need for the governors to respect the financial autonomy of the judiciary “is not only in line with the constitutional dictates, but presently the judicial position.”