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Updated: Supreme court, NJC deny knowledge of Onnoghen’s resignation

The Director of Information, Supreme Court, Festus Akande has denied knowledge of the resignation of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.

Akande, who said he was not aware that Onnoghen had thrown in the towel, said as of Thursday when he left the office, “nothing like that happened.”

“It is still a rumour now, I also read it. As of Thursday evening when I left office nothing that happened,” by phone.

Also, another source within the Supreme Court, who asked not to be quoted, denied knowledge of the resignation, Friday evening.

He said the Supreme Court was not aware of the resignation.

The Director of Information, Nigeria Judicial Council, Soji Oye, said by phone that  the council had not received notice of Onnoghen’s resignation.

An Online medium had reported Friday that Onnoghen had resigned as the CJN with immediate effect.

According to the medium, the suspended CJN turned in his resignation letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday evening, a day after the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended that he be compulsorily retired for misconduct.

By virtue of section 306 of the 1999 constitution, his resignation takes immediate effect as Section 306 says “(1) Save as otherwise provided in this section, any person who is appointed, elected or otherwise selected to any office established by this Constitution may resign from that office by writing under his hand addressed to the authority or person by whom he was appointed, elected or selected. (2) The resignation of any person from any office established by this Constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorised by that authority or person to receive it.”

The resignation will save Buhari from having to get two-thirds majority of the senate to confirm Onnoghen’s retirement as stipulated in Section 292 (1) of the 1999 constitution which says a “judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances – (a) in the case of – (i) Chief Justice of Nigeria… by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.”

With the resignation, Onnoghen’s retirement benefits in cash and kind will cost tax payers about N2.5 billion.

However, if he is dismissed, he will not be entitled to any benefits and could be banned from holding public office for 10 years, while his assets believed to have been acquired illegally, will be confiscated, the paper reported.

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