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Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday dismissed a suit instituted against the Attorney General of the Federation and Ministry, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate over the process leading to the appointment of the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad.
The suit challenging the appointment of Muhammad was instituted by the Board of Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation.
The trial Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the plaintiff, has locus standi to file the suit.
Ekwo agreed with the National Judicial Council (NJC), President Muhammadu Buhari and four other defendants in the suit to the effect that the plaintiff has no legal right to institute the legal action, in the name of public interest litigation.
The judge held that the plaintiff is not authorised by its aims and objectives of registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to embark on this type of litigation.
Following the prosecution and the suspension of the immediate past CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on the strength of an ex-parte order obtained the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), where Onnoghen was being prosecuted for non disclosure of some of his assets, Buhari suspended him and appointed Justice Muhammad as acting CJN.
A development that led to filing of a suit before the Federal High Court, Abuja by the Board of Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation to stop the appointment of Justice Muhammad as the CJN.
The suit had, the NJC, the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), Justice Muhammad, Federal Government, President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation and the Senate as defendants in the suit.
Justice Ekwo, in his judgement held the plaintiff cannot institute the legal action, going by the provisions of its constitution, adding also that the plaintiff did not file the action with the name it was registered with the CAC.
According to the judge, “The preliminary objection of the respondents is upheld and resolved in their favour.
“Plaintiff lacks the locus standi to institute the action and as such, the court cannot go into the merit of the matter.
“I therefore make an order striking out the act this suit”, Justice Ekwo stated.
The plaintiff, through its counsel, Chief Malcolm Emokiniovo Omirhobo had, in an ex-parte motion filed on April 15, 2019 asked the court to stop Justice Muhammad’s appointment as acting CJN, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the foundation.
The plaintiff, also asked for an order of interim injunction restraining the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (7th defendant) from confirming the appointment of Justice Muhammad as CJN on the ground that there was violation of the constitution and the code of conduct for judicial officers in the appointment of the Acting CJN.