Less than 48 hours after the National Judicial Council (NJC) transmitted its investigative report to President Muhammadu Buhari, the embattled suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, has reportedly tendered his resignation.
Multiple reports have cited different sources as confirming the development. According to a report by The Guardian, a senior lawyer in his legal team, who spoke under anonymity, confirmed this on Friday.
He said, “I have just spoken with him. He confirmed to me that he resigned voluntarily yesterday (Thursday),” the senior advocate who said he did not have Onnoghen’s authorisation to speak on the issue said.”
NJC, had written to President Buhari, reportedly recommending the compulsory retirement of Justice Onnoghen.
According to reports, the NJC said its decision was based on “incontrovertible” evidence of questionable 1.7 million dollars found in Onnoghen’s accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Furthermore, the council reportedly urged the president to allow Justice Onnoghen retain his seat as a former CJN in the Council of State and that he should be retired with full benefits.
A source who spoke on the NJC decision said: “The NJC has been able to navigate the most challenging moment for the nation’s judiciary by recommending compulsory retirement of Onnoghen with full benefits.
“The NJC specifically demanded that the CJN be allowed to take his eminent position in the Council of State like his predecessors.
“If these recommendations are accepted, the Executive may be on the same page with the Judiciary by staying action on the ongoing trial and other pending trials of the CJN.”
Onnoghen’s choice of resigning appears to be the best possible option, in his judgement, under the current circumstances.
His associates have been quoted to have said that he chose the option of resignation as a measure of damage control.
By choosing to resign, Onnoghen may be entitled to his retirement benefits in cash and kind, which is estimated at about N2.5 billion.
As part of the package for a retired chief justice, a house will be built for him in Abuja with a nine-digit sum for furnishing — in addition to a severance gratuity that is 300% of his annual basic salary of N3,363,972.50, as well as pension for life.
He is also entitled to a number of domestic staff and sundry allowances for personal upkeep.
However, if he is dismissed, he will not be entitled to any benefits.
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