A former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) has urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to immediately remove Acting Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad.
He made the demand in a January 28 letter to the NJC entitled: Petition against Hon. Justice Tanko Mohammed JSC
Agbakoba recalled that on January 25, President Mohammadu Buhari, pursuant to an ex-parte order of the Code of the Conduct Tribunal (CCT), suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghnen, and swore in Justice Mohammed as the Acting CJN.
He wrote: “The Constitution is clear about the procedure for suspending or removing the Chief Justice of Nigeria. The Chief Justice of Nigeria can only be removed on the recommendation of the NJC.”
He referred to Section 153 (1), Paragraph 21 (a) of the 3rd Schedule and Section 292 (1) (a) (i) of the 1999 Constitution and the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb v AGF (2012) 40 WRN 1.
Agbakoba said Justice Muhammad is fully aware of the state of law, yet presented himself to be sworn in by the President.
“Incidentally, Justice Tanko Muhammad was a member of the NJC panel that removed Justice Obisike Orji of the Abia State High Court for accepting to be sworn in as Chief Judge by the Governor of Abia State without the recommendation of the NJC.
“It is a matter of regret that Justice Tanko Muhammad who participated in this process will lend himself to this constitutional infraction,” the SAN said.
He urged the NJC to remove Justice Muhammad based on the Abia precedent.
“We pray the NJC determine this petition in line with the decision in Justice Obisike Orji by immediately removing Justice Tanko Muhammad as Justice of the Supreme Court on grounds of gross misconduct by allowing himself to be sworn in by the President of Nigeria, without the recommendation of the NJC,” Agbakoba said.