Politics 2009: How Acting President Jonathan Was Unable To Swear-in A Chief Justice



The insinuations around President Muhammadu Buhari's health and the functioning capacity of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has fuelled a lot of rumours as to whay happened in 2009 playing out already.


A report-finding by The Cable reveals that in 2009, when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua travelled abroad for medical treatment, he refused to hand over power to former President Goodluck Jonathan, his deputy. As expected, this created a huge crisis, but what was to follow was nothing compared to the agitation for Jonathan to take over power.

The Save Nigeria Group (SNG) under the leadership of Tunde Bakare, fiery preacher, was in the forefront of the campaign for Jonathan to take charge.

The group, which was able to garner support from influential personalities in public space, staged rallies and a series of protests; the kitchen cabinet too wouldn’t not cave in easily: their message was simple, Yar’Adua could govern the country from anywhere.

“The powers of the president are not exercised territorially. Yar’Adua can exercise his powers anywhere in the world, on the plane, at the meeting of the United Nations or even on his sick bed, as long as he is not incapacitated by the sickness,” Michael Aondoakaa attorney-general had said at a press conference.

While Aondoakaa was theorising, the tenure of Idirs Kutigi as chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) was nearing its end, and Aloysius Katsina-Alu was ready to mount the saddle, but the only problem was that the man who had the constitutional authority to administer oath of office on Katsina-Alu was bedridden in faraway Saudi Arabia.
He was battling pericarditis, or so they made us believe, and a constitutional crisis was brewing.

“But he said it was not possible because the constitution says at the age of 70, he must go. But he promised he was going to re-examine the laws. I got back to my office; I was terribly worried within that period.”

Then came the solution: “Few days to the time, expiration of the tenure of the former CJN, the attorney-general came and showed me the act that says either the president or the chief justice of the federation can swear in the new chief justice of the federation. That law was there but nobody saw it.”

On December 30, 2009, Kutigi administered the oath on his successor, and trust Nigerians, this created conundrum among lawyers.

Rotimi Akeredolu, incumbent governor of Ondo state, who was then the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), had accused Kutigi of foisting two CJNs on the nation’.

Akeredolu said he was worried that the task which had been traditionally reserved for presidents was usurped by the retiring CJN.

“In my personal view, the swearing-in of the CJN is pure illegality. It is illegal because the country cannot have two CJNs at the same time. I was told that the outgoing CJN said in his speech that he is still the CJN till tomorrow (Thursday December 31); you can see the absurdity. It is unfortunate that the legal profession is letting itself into this illegality,” he had told reporters.

Meanwhile, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has today sworn in Walter Onnoghen as the substantive chief justice.