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NJC Removes Onnoghen’s Name from Membership List

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Justice Walter Onnoghen’s name has been removed from the National Judicial Council’s members’ list, preparing the ground for a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, to emerge as the council’s deputy chairman, The PUNCH reports.

The altered membership list of the NJC was observed on the council’s website at about 7.15pm on Sunday.

The list, displaying 23 members instead of the full membership of 24, shows that the council has yet to have a deputy chairman as constitutionally provided.

It was gathered that following Onnoghen’s exit, Justice Rhodes-Vivour as the second most senior Justice of the Supreme Court would be announced as the deputy chairman at the next meeting of the council.

“The date of the next meeting of the NJC is not known yet; but because the acting CJN has just taken over as the acting chairman of the council, it is expected that the deputy chairman will be announced at the next meeting,” a top judiciary source told our correspondent on Sunday.

Paragraph 20 (a) of Part I of the Third Schedule to the Constitution makes “the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court” a member of the council and provides that the person “shall be the Deputy Chairman.”

Our correspondent also observed on the website of the council on Sunday that the membership list of the NJC had been altered to reflect the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, as the acting chairman.

Onnoghen now occupies the 16th position on the list of former Chief Justices of Nigeria as observed on the website by our correspondent on Sunday.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal had last Thursday convicted Onnoghen on charges of breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and ordered his removal as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the chairman of both the NJC and the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

But multiple judiciary sources told our correspondent on Sunday that the NJC’s membership list was altered shortly after Justice Onnoghen tendered his resignation letter on April 4.

Constitutionally, the CJN is automatically the chairman of both the NJC and the Federal Judicial Service Commission, but Muhammad only took over the headship of the council on April 4, over two months after he began to act as the CJN.

This was a day after the NJC cleared him of wrongdoing in allowing himself to be sworn in as the acting CJN without NJC’s recommendation.

The council, which also investigated Onnoghen for various acts of misconduct, was said to have recommended him for retirement.

Onnoghen reportedly resigned on April 4, barely 24 hours after the NJC sent its recommendations to President Buhari.

Muhammad took over as the acting CJN after he was cleared by the NJC and Onnoghen resigned.

The current members of the NJC as observed on the council’s website on Sunday included Justice Muhammad; President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa; a former Justice of the Supreme Court and a former chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola; a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sunday Akintan; and a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi.

They also included a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice, V.O.A Omage;

Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati; President, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Babatunde Adejumo; Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello; and Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abiola.

The Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah; Chief Judge of Imo State, Pascal Nnadi; Chief Judge of Delta State, Marshal Umukoro; Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kwara State Grand Kadi Mohammed Abdulkadir; and President, Customary Court of Appeal, Plateau State, Justice Julia Kyentu are also members.

They also included the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN); a former NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN); and three NBA members, namely Dr Muiz Banire (SAN); Damien Dodo (SAN), and Efe Etomi.

The rest are a retired public servant, Mrs Rakiya Ibrahim; a former Permanent Secretary, Mrs R. Inga and Secretary to the Council, Ahmed Saleh.

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Buhari Approves Suspension of Ex-EFCC Acting Chairman, Magu

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the suspension of the boss of the country’s anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu days after he appeared at an investigative panel.

The Nigerian Government said Magu’s suspension is to “allow for unhindered inquiry” by the panel investigating allegations of corruption against the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, should take charge and oversee the activities of the Commission pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regards,” Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations in the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said in a statement on Friday.

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COVID-19: Fresh Lockdown Likely After Two Weeks – PTF

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The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday lamented the increasing rate of COVID-19 cases among people in government, saying it was directly impacting on governance and security in the country.

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who stated this at the task force press briefing in Abuja, also said the possibility of ordering a fresh total lockdown to curtail further spread of the virus could not be ruled out.

The SGF, who advised prominent Nigerians to take COVID-19 protocols seriously, said the virus does not respect status.

Mustapha’s warning came amid rising cases of COVID-19 among state governors and other prominent Nigerians.  Recently state governors, including David Umahi of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and their Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi  Akeredolu, contracted the virus.

Warning people in authority, the SGF said,  “Of recent, we have witnessed a high rate of positive cases especially among people in authority. This has a direct impact on governance and security of our nation. We urge that vigilance and care should be exhibited by all Nigerians, irrespective of status. This virus does not discriminate and the PTF shall keep sustaining its sensitisation messaging.”

When asked if the task force would be considering a fresh lockdown in the face of what it observed as disregard for guidelines, Mustapha said events of coming weeks would determine the next line of action.

He said, “We will not speculate on what will happen in future but we will protect the lives of Nigerians.

“To achieve that, if it means to lock down again, we will not shy away from that responsibility. We will recommend to the President who will look at the report and take a decision on our recommendation. What happens in the next two three weeks will determine what we will do.”

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Cross River Finally Joins the Fray As Nigeria Records 575 New COVID-19 Cases

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced 575 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 29,286.

Nine deaths were recorded from the virus on Monday bringing the total number of confirmed deaths from the virus to 654.

There was an increase in the number of confirmed cases reported Monday compared to what was reported on Sunday (544).

The health agency in a tweet Monday night said the 575 new cases were reported in 20 states including Lagos, Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), Delta, Edo, Ogun, Katsina, Bayelsa, Rivers, Borno, Plateau, Ondo, Oyo, Kwara, Osun, Enugu, Nasarawa, Abia, Cross River, Kaduna and Ekiti.

All the reporting states already had at least a case of the virus.

As of the time of reporting, all 36 states and the FCT have recorded at least a case of the disease.

NCDC has officially recorded the confirmed cases reported in Cross River, after days of controversies on the cases.

Lagos remains the epicentre for the disease in the country while Zamfara has not reported any new confirmed case in the past 48 days.

“Till date, 29, 286 cases have been confirmed, 11, 828 cases have been discharged and 654 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory,” the NCDC stated.

The 575 new cases were reported from 20 states: Lagos – 123, FCT – 100, Delta – 58, Edo – 52, Ogun – 42, Katsina – 24, Bayelsa – 23, Rivers – 22, Borno – 19, Plateau – 18, Ondo – 18, Oyo – 17, Kwara – 15, Osun – 13, Enugu – 9, Nasarawa – 7, Abia – 6, Cross River – 5, Kaduna – 3 and Ekiti – 1.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria in February, NCDC said, 152,952 samples have been tested.

As of the time of reporting, there are 16,804 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, while 11,828 have recovered and have been discharged.

A breakdown of the 29,286 confirmed cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 11, 367 cases, followed by FCT – 2,281, Oyo – 1,530, Edo – 1,435, Delta – 1,285, Kano – 1,268, Rivers – 1,205, Ogun – 1,047, Kaduna – 868, Katsina – 628, Borno – 574, Gombe – 520, Bauchi – 518, Ebonyi – 503, Ondo – 474, Plateau – 454, Abia – 391, Enugu – 381, Imo – 352, Jigawa – 318, Kwara – 284, Bayelsa – 268, Nasarawa – 232, Osun – 178, Sokoto – 153, Niger – 122, Akwa Ibom – 112, Adamawa – 99, Benue – 97, Kebbi – 84, Zamfara – 76, Anambra – 73, Yobe – 61, Ekiti – 45, Taraba- 22, Kogi – 5, and Cross River – 5.

While confirmed cases of the virus have continued to increase in the country, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the government is trying to boost overall COVID-19 sample collection, by preparing all public and private hospitals nationwide to become collection hospitals sites.

This, he said will require working with state governments to identify the facilities and the space within them, to conduct training for the personnel selected and supply both PPEs and sample collection kits, as well as the logistics to go around to recover test samples.

“If logistics around sample collection and delivery to test sites are better organised, a lot more will be achieved.

“However, the more we test, the more confirmed cases we shall find, of which the vulnerable will have to be prioritised for admission to treatment centres, even if they are not yet showing symptoms,” he added.

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