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Justice Onnoghen

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has nominated Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, ushering in the first southern head of the apex court in about 30 years.

“Hon. Justice W.S. Onnoghen’s name has been sent to the Senate for confirmation as the next CJN,” the tweet said with an accompanying link to Mr. Onnoghen’s biography on the Supreme Court website.

The announcement came four months after Mr. Onnoghen was first recommended to Mr. Buhari as the next head of the country’s judiciary.

The delay would have triggered an automatic constitutional provision that could block the president from proceeding with the nomination process by February 10.

The president’s delay in nominating Mr. Onnoghen as substantive chief judge despite the NJC recommendation fuelled allegations of ethnic bias against Mr. Buhari.

Wednesday’s announcement is expected to douse that criticism.

The jurist will now await a confirmation by the Senate to assume duty as substantive chief judge. Although the Senate is on recess till February 21, an emergency sitting could be called to ensure early resolution of the controversy.

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