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Walter Nkanu Onnoghen (Biography)

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Not all stories are bet time story, and this is not but it is a story of tenacity, "Mgberede k'eji ama dike" - Igbo Adage.


Welcome to Logbaby’s biography of Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, a story of courage under pressure…


Name: Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen

Titles or nickname: CJN (Chief Justice of Nigeria), GCON (Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger)

Date of birth: December 22, 1950

Physique: N/A

State of Origin: Cross River State (Community: Okurike Town, Biase LGA)



Onnoghen is a relatively hidden figure in the world of Law where he is in fact the defato King. Not much was known about him for the average Nigerian until his ordeals with the Federal Government began in 2017.

Today he is a key figure in the 2019 Election, a probable reason for his prosecution by the incumbent president.

To some he is the legimate Chief Justice of Nigeria and to others his supension by President Mohammadu Buhari is valid.

At best he is embattled.



Walter Nkanu Onnoghen was born in Okurike a small indiscript village in Cross River State. As with most people of his time, there is no record of early childhood education.

He started school in 1959 at Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike and proceeded to Odorgonno Senior High School in Accra, Ghana for his secondary education in 1967. He achieve his WAEC at Accra Academy in 1974 and attended the University of Ghana at Legon graduating in 1977 and joining the Nigerian Law School in Lagos in 1978.

All told his education from Primary to Law school was a combined 19 years, 3 years more than it should be. The 3 years are unaccounted for.



Completing law school in 1978 he worked at the Ministry of Justice, Ikeja, Lagos and in Ogun State from 1978-1979, as a People's State Counsel. In 1979 he left for private practive at the Law firm of Effiom Ekong & Company in Calabar, Cross River State.

In 1988 he started his own firm Walter Onnoghen & Associates, also in Calabar.

In 1989 he left private practive and was appoint to the State High Court Judge of Cross Rivers State. At his time in the High Court he was the Chairman of the State Armed Robbery and Firm Arms Tribunal for 3 years from 1990 – 1993. In 1996 he was appointed the Chairman of the Judicial Enquiry into the Crisis between Students of the University of Calabar and Obufa Esuk Orok Community, Calabar. In 1998, he Chaired the Failed Bank Tribunal in Ibadan Zone. In 1998 was appointed a Justice of the Court of Appeal.

In 2007, Onnoghen, now a Justice of the supreme court was a dissenting judgment supporting the annullment of the presidential election that brought in President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, and while his dissent was loud it was a minority judgment.

In February 2016, Onnoghen led a 7-man panel of Justices of the supreme court, reviewing and upholding the death sentence of Chukwuemeka Ezeugo (aka Rev. King) of the Christain Praying Assembly.

In 2017 he was the defactor elegible judge to replace the outgoing Chief Justice but President Mohammadu Buhari refused to appoint him. In February 2017 while President Buhari was on a medical trip out of the counrty, Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, appointed him and sent his name to the senate which confirmed his appointment on March 1st 2017.

Chief Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen was sworn in on March 7 2017.



Appointment as Chief Justice

It had been 2 decades since the appointment of a Chief Justice from the Southern zones of Nigeria, since Justice Ayo Irikefe retired in1987 and may wonder if tribe had a role to play in Buhari's refusal to appoint him, even when the honour was due. 

CCT Trail

In January 2019, under suspiciously political circumstances the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), began trial of Onnoghen for alleged violations of the Code of Conduct regulations on Declaration of assets.

The trials origins begin from a petition by a civil organization to the Code of Conduct Bureau, alleging informalities.

The trial has been seen a witch hunt in an attempt to decommission the one possible remedy contestants may have to the Federal Governments rigging of the 2019 elections. To further add fuel to the fire on January 26th, the President Mohammadu Buhari, suspended the Chief Justice and appointed a replacement, an action that has no bearing in the Nigerian constitution and just 1 day before he could appoint election tribunal judges.

Refusing to resign his office was sealed by men of the Nigerian police.

His trial the CCT continues and the Nigerian Judicial Council has issued summons to both him, the appointee of Mohammadu Buhari and the Chairman of the CCT.

The matter is yet to be concluded.

Updated 4 Months ago

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