Justice Onnoghen, Buhari’s Final Albatross

– Gimba Kakanda

It took the Buhari presidency almost an eternity to forward Justice Walter Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation as Chief Justice of Nigeria. Their reason for doing so, as reported, was their wisdom to pause and carry out diligent background checks and be convinced the incoming head of the Judiciary wasn’t found wanting.

The unusual delay triggered a resonating outrage across the country, from newspaper editorials to Lucozade Boost activists on Facebook and Twitter. Despite such public outrage, Buhari took his time to scrutinize the man already recommended by the National Judicial Council, and even refusing to comment or address trending and polarizing questions surrounding it.

The explanation for that long wait to nominate CJN was eventually provided by Yemi Osinbajo, in his position then as Acting President. He said, “We are all witnesses to the recent discoveries in the judiciary. The government needs to be sure that whoever is going to be put at the head of that arm of government has a clean bill of health.”

Osinbajo concluded that the government was “satisfied by its findings,” and that declaration now stirs up a certain curiosity and confusion. Whatever is going on, something is definitely amiss, and with the the general elections imminent and requiring unified judiciary to intervene, this farce is obviously for the interest of the powers that be.