The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has restated its assertion that President Muhammadu Buhari plans to bypass the constitution by sustaining the interim tenure of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Intersociety, while reacting to the recent tenure extension granted to Justice Muhamad as the CJN in acting capacity on Saturday, said that the template used to keep Ibrahim Magu indefinitely as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Acting capacity without confirmation by the Senate as stipulated by the constitution is being replicated.
Magu has been superintending Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency in acting capacity for four years now creating a constitutional stalemate.
In the statement signed by the Board Chair, Intersociety, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, the rights group noted that the three months interim tenure of the Acting CJN Justice Muhammad, scheduled to expire on April 25, 2019, has “been extended by the President on controversial recommendation of the NJC”.
The second 90 days extension elapses on July 25, 2019. Justice Muhammad was presidentially first appointed for 90 days interim capacity under controversial circumstances on January 25, 2019 following the controversial removal same day of the now voluntarily retired CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The group stated: “By the foregoing, therefore, Intersociety has not only been vindicated following its two earlier alarms raised in its statements of 18th and 19th April 2019, but also as it pre-emptively and correctly pointed out, the Acting CJN is on his way to breaking another dark history in Nigeria as the country’s ‘permanent’ Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria or longest serving “Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria; meaning that Nigerians and members of the international community should expect another NJC ‘recommended’ extension on or before 25th July 2019 and subsequent ones on continuous basis until the ‘permanent’ Acting CJN reaches his retirement age of 70years by 31stDecember 2023 or seven months after the end of the tenure of this present central Government of Nigeria (if not ousted judicially by electoral Supreme Court).”
“Justice Tanko Muhammad was officially born on 31st Dec 1953 and will be due for retirement as a Justice of Supreme Court of Nigeria (JSC) on 31st Dec 2023. The mandatory age of retirement for Supreme Court Justices in Nigeria is 70yrs. Police CP Ibrahim Magu was the first to break the dark history as Nigeria’s longest serving “Acting Chairman” of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, without senatorial confirmation; having been appointed on 9th November 2015; a position he remains till date without senatorial confirmation.”
“One of the chief aims behind the decision of the Presidency to keep some persons appointed into top public positions (including Acting CJN) in capacity without senatorial confirmation seems to be to cover the dark sides of such appointees from being publicly exposed during their senatorial confirmation processes; capable of stalling their confirmations. Such dark sides and other necessary information include issues of moral decency or uprightness, job or position competence or otherwise, authenticity or otherwise of their academic qualifications and professional or career backgrounds; family and social lifestyles, corruption and economic status and other troubling personal information capable of being senatorially or publicly unearthed. The consequences of these usually lead to such plum public office appointees being presidentially remote-controlled or used in doing its selfish and parochial biddings; stripping them of independence, integrity, impartiality and public accountability.”
Intersociety also reminded that it had in its statement of Friday, April 19, 2019, accused the Buhari/Osinbajo Administration of reckless resort since June 2015 to crooked technicalities in matters of policies and governance of the country, instead of doing the right thing at the right time. We had also pointed out clearly that “if the Buhari/Osinbajo Administration could not utilize 90 days of 25th Jan to 25th April 2019 in transmitting to the Senate the NJC recommended nominee(s) to be confirmed as Nigeria’s next substantive CJN, then the same Administration would not get it done if given fresh 90 days (25th April to 25th July 2019); especially when considering the fact that the incoming 9th Senate will have less than 50 days after its presidential proclamation on 5th June 2019 or there about to attend to the same issue alongside other piled up top legislative matters including administrative hiccups, etc arising from the newness of many of its members”.