Court dismisses suit challenging Justice Muhammad’s confirmation as CJN

Court dismisses suit challenging Justice Muhammad’s confirmation as CJN

- A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit seeking to stop the confirmation of Justice Tanko Muhammad as Nigeria's CJN

- The suit was fled by the Board of Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation

- The court ruled that the plaintiff lacks the requisite locus standi to bring the suit

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, July 12 dismissed a suit seeking to stop the confirmation of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that the plaintiff, the Board of Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation lacks the requisite locus standi to bring the suit, adding that it acted outside the purpose for its registration.

Justice Ekwo held that Section 901 of Part C of Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) provides that “foundations” are established for charitable causes, which are listed in its objectives.

“Anything done or action taken outside its constitution, is ultra virus its powers,” Daily Trust quoted the judge as saying.

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However, following the court’s decision, counsel to the foundation, Malcolm Omhirobo complained that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has sold the soul of the judiciary to the executive by their recommendation for the confirmation of Justice Muhammad despite the suit.

Omirhobo had in May asked the court to determine whether by sections 1(1)(2), 23(4) (a) (i)(b), 153(1) and Paragraph 21(a)(b) Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the office of the CJN was vacant as at January 25 when Justice Muhammad was sworn in as Acting CJN.

He asked the court to determine whether the provisions of the constitution contemplate the removal of the CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by ex parte order of court.

But the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Buhari and the attorney-general of the federation brought a preliminary objection through the solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary in the ministry of justice, Dayo Apata, contending that the foundation is not a juristic person.

It added that the lawyer did not disclose any cause of action or the locus standi to institute the case.

Also, counsel to the Acting CJN, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) described the suit as premature, speculative and academic.

He said the suit constitutes and abuse of court process as the foundation had filed two other similar matters before the Federal High Court.

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Meanwhile, Justice Ekwo adjourned the suit filed by a Civil society organisation, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), against Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and other parties recently.

The suit which came up for further mention on Thursday, July 4, had Edward Omaga Esq. leading Joseph Nwaegbu Esq., Tersagh Unande Esq., John Obor Esq. and Abiodun Sodiq Babalola Esq. for the plaintiff.

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