President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday swore in Walter Samuel Onnoghen (Cross River) as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
At the occasion in the Council Chamber of the State House, the President sought for the judiciary’s cooperation in the fight against corruption, insecurity, and to boost the Nigerian economy.
He said: “I congratulate the new acting CJN to come at a time that the institution that he is going to head to play his role of the constitutional bodies after the executive the judiciary and legislature at this trying time for our nation.
“Trying time in the sense of the three identifiable problems this country is facing . Physical security, the problem of economy and corruption.
“In this room contains the constitutional bodies that are responsible for bringing Nigeria back into line in terms of security and managing it efficiently while making sure that the economy is resuscitated and that security of doing business at all stages in the country is free and fair.” He added
He said that he was honored to say goodbye to the immediate past CJN, Mahmud Muhammed, who just retired from office.
Congratulating him for the time spent in the position, the President wished him best of luck in his retired life.
Onnoghen was sworn in based on Section 230 subsection (iv) and Section 231 subsection (I) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
As the most senior justice of the Supreme Court, he took over from the immediate past CJN.
His appointment is due for confirmation by the Senate.
Speaking at the occasion, he thanked God for making it possible for him to be sworn in as the Acting CJN.
Towards having a befitting judiciary for the country, he pledged his support to Buhari’s anti-corruption fight in the judiciary.
He said: “In this state of our development and with your Programme in tow, I assure you of the full cooperation of the third arm of government in the continuation of the war against corruption and misconduct in the judiciary.
“I intend to carry on where my predecessors stop, modify certain areas but with the general ultimate goal of having a better judiciary befitting the nation Nigeria.
“Thank you for the confidence repose on me and by the grace of God we shall succeed.” He stated
Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the ceremony, the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Mahmud Mohammed said that there is need for all Nigerians to help fish out corrupt elements within the society, including the judiciary
He said: “We agree, corruption is everywhere, but you see we are all Nigerians but in the judiciary, it is there we need the assistance of all Nigerians to help fish out those corrupt elements within us so that we could fight with vigour to deliver a clean judiciary for the nation to fight against corruption and to assist in revamping the economy for the interest of this nation in order to secure economy all over because the judiciary has a big role to play in every aspect of our lives.”
Based on abridged profile of Onnoghen released to journalists, he was born on 22nd December, 1950 at Okurike Town, Biase L.G.A. of Cross River State.
He attended the Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike Town between 1959 and 1966 and later proceeded to Accra, Ghana to attend Odorgorno Secondary School, Adabraka, between 1967 and 1972 for his West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Exams.
He was at Accra Academy, Ghana between 1972 and 1974 for his WAEC (A-Levels) before proceeding to the University of Ghana, Legon, between 1974 and 1977 to obtain his Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B (Hons)) and graduated with 2nd Class Upper Division and was among the best graduating students.
He attended the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos between 1977 and 1978 for his B.L certificate.
He completed his compulsory National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) in July 1979.
His previous professional appointments/positions held included: Pupil State Counsel, Lagos State, (1978 – 1979), Partner in the Law Firm of Effiom Ekong & Company, Calabar (1979 – 1988), Principal Partner/Head of Chambers of Walter Onnoghen & Associates, Calabar (1988 -1989), Chairman, Cross River State Armed Robbery and Fire Arms Tribunal (1990 – 1993).
Others included Chairman, Judicial Enquiry into the Crisis between Students of the University of Calabar and Obufa Esuk Orok Community, Calabar (1996). Chairman, Failed Banks Tribunal, Ibadan Zone (1998), High Court Judge, Cross River State Judiciary (1989 – 1998)
Justice of the Court of Appeal (Nov 1998-June 2005).
He was also appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (JSC) since 2005. He is also a Justice of the Supreme Court of The Gambia.
A Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Fellow of the National Judicial Institute, Hon. Justice Onnoghen has attended several conferences and seminars within and outside Nigeria and presented scholarly papers.
He is a member of the Body of Benchers and Life Bencher; Chairman, Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, and Vice-Chairman, Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee among others.
Hon. Justice Onnoghen, who is currently the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, is married with children.