A consortium of 25 lawyers has instituted a suit against President Muhammadu Buhari before the Federal High Court, Abuja, to challenge what they termed the illegal suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.

Led by human rights activist, Mr. Johnmary Jideobi, the lawyers formulated two questions for the determination of the court.

Other defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/113/2019 were the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, and the suspended CJN, Onnoghen.

Specifically, the plaintiff prayed the high court to determine, “whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153(1) (i) paragraph 21(a) of the Third Schedule and sections 271, 291, 292 and 231 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [and especially in view of the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb vs. AGF (2012) 13 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 1318)], there exists any authority in the first defendant (Buhari) to suspend the fourth defendant (Onnoghen) as the Chief Justice of Nigeria?

“Whether by the combined interpretation of Section 153(1) (i) paragraph 21(a) of the Third Schedule and sections 271, 291, 292 and 231 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [and especially in view of the Supreme Court decision in Elelu-Habeeb vs. AGF (2012) 13 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 1318)] the purported suspension of the fourth defendant as the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the first Defendant on the 25th January, 2019, is not unconstitutional?”

Upon determination of the questions, the plaintiffs asked the court to hold that Buhari lacked the constitutional power to suspend Onnoghen as the CJN.

The suit sought, among other things, “An order of this honourable court quashing and setting aside [as being unconstitutional and of no legal force] the purported suspension of the fourth defendant by the first defendant.”

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