Justice Walter Onnoghen has been unanimously confirmed on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Nigeria’s chief justice after some one hour of grilling by the Nigerian Senate. He will be the 20th person to occupy the position since 1914, according to judicial records.
His name was forwarded for screening by Acting President Osinbajo two weeks ago.
The confirmation hearing began with Onnoghen taking senators through his educational background, his service year at the Lagos Ministry of Justice and career till date.
Then Senators asked him how he would ensure that the common man gets justice in the country and the judiciary fast-track the trial of persons for corruption.
Onnoghen agreed with the Senators that there is corruption in the judiciary, but quickly added that his duty will be to reduce the scourge.
“We are working to stem this and encourage transparency in our dealings,” he said.
The new chief justice of Nigeria also spoke about his plans to ensure that the judiciary reinforces itself as a separate arm of government and remains the last hope of all Nigerians in the dispensation of justice.
As he put it, every Nigerian will not need to see a judge before he gets justice.
“We shall reinforce our independence. I won’t compromise on that”, Onnoghen told the Senators.
Then he dropped a quote meant for all times: “the Judiciary is not the last hope of the common man, but the last hope of every man”.
Senate President Bukola Saraki described Onnoghen’s nomination, screening and his eventual confirmation as a milestone and a democratic progress.
He congratulated the new CJN and hoped that he would appreciate more than anyone else, he the responsibility and challenges ahead of him.
Sixty-six year-old Walter Samuel Onnoghen has been a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria since 2005.
He was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed, in acting capacity, Justice Mahmood Muhammed in November last year.
He graduated from the University of Ghana at Legon, Ghana in 1977 and from the Nigerian Law School in Lagos in 1978.
Before joining the Supreme Court, he was a judge in Cross River State and a justice of the Court of Appeal.
Onnoghen was born on the 22 December 1950 at Okurike Town, Biase local government area of Cross Rivers State.
Here is the list of Nigerian chief justices since 1914:
1. Sir Edwin Speed, 1914-1918
2. Sir Ralph Combe, 1918-1929
3. Donald kingdon, 1929-1946
4. Sir John Verity, 1946-1954
5. Sir Stafford Sutton, 1955-1958
6. Adetokunbo Ademola, 1958-1972
7. Taslim Olawale Elias, 1972-1975
8. Darnley Arthur Alexander, 1975-1979
9. Atanda Fatai Williams, 1979-1983
10. George Shodeinde Sowewimo, 1983-1985
11. Ayo Gabriel Irikefe, 1985-1987
12. Mohammed Bello, 1987-1995
13. Muhammad Lawal Uwais, 1995-2006
14. Salihu Moddibo Alfa Belgore, 2006-2007
15. Idris Legbo Kutigi, 2007-2009
16. Aloysius Iyorgyer Katsina-Alu, 2009-2011
17. Dahiru Musdapher, 2011-2012
18. Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, 2012-2014
19. Mahmoud Mohammed, 2014-2016
20. Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, November 2016 till date. (NAN)