The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on prosecution, Okoi Okono Obla, has advised Nigerians against reading ethnic and religious meanings to the delayed confirmation of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen.
He made the remark while reacting to the controversy generated over the non-confirmation of Onnoghen as the substantive CJN.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 10 named Onnoghen, the most senior justice of the Supreme Court, as acting CJN, in line with recommendation by the NJC, following the retirement of Justice Mahmud Mohammed at the statutory age of 70.
Despite that Onnoghen’s tenure will expire soon, the President has been silent on his confirmation, an action that has drawn so much condemnation from a cross section of Nigerians.
A Lagos-based lawyer had earlier in the week dragged the President, his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo, the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Justice Abubakar Malami before a Lagos High Court over the non-confirmation of Onnoghen.
But reacting to the controversies generated over Onnoghen’s delayed confirmation, Obla, on Wednesday urged Nigerians not to capitalise on the situation to blackmail the President.
Stressing that the situation was common in most states of the Federation, Obla maintained that the President has done nothing wrong.
“We have an acting CJN of Nigeria.Well, if his tenure ends, the system will take care of itself. I don’t think the president has done anything wrong,” he told newsmen.
”In Nigeria, in the judicial branch of government, we have seen this happened. In my own state, Cross River State, the Chief Judge who is the current one was appointed on acting capacity and when his tenure expired, he was again appointed on acting capacity. So, trying to blackmail the president over this is bad.
“People are trying to read ethnic meanings, religious meanings and regional meanings to this because in Nigeria, everything is being looked at from the sectional perspective, I think they are not being fair to the president.
“For goodness sake, has the president not appointed people from that very state where the Acting CJN comes from?
“Recently, the Auditor General of the Federation was appointed from that state based on merit, because he came first in the interview conducted and the president appointed him. The Chief of Naval Staff was the fifth in the Naval hierarchy but the president appointed him Chief of Naval Staff.So what are they saying?
“So, the president would respect the law, would respect the Constitution as far as the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria is concerned. But people should stop reading unnecessary meanings, “he charged.
On whether Onnoghen can still be re-appointed as Acting CJN, the Presidential aide called for patience, saying, “the system will take care of itself when the Acting CJN’s tenure expires.”
”What I’m saying here is that the process will take care of itself. There wouldn’t be any vacuum, the process would take care of itself,” he said.