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Acting CJN Tanko reveals when he’ll step aside, says Onnoghen remains Chief Justice of Nigeria

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The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, ACJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has said that suspended Justice Walter Onnoghen, remains the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Muhammad said he would step aside once the Code of Conduct Tribunal or the Appeal Court reverses Onnoghen’s matter.

He, however, claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari does not need the permission of the National Judicial Council, NJC, to appoint an acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

This was part of Justice Muhammad’s response to a query given to him by the NJC.

Justice Muhammad pointed out that the NJC ought to be consulted only when a substantive CJN is being appointed or re-appointed.

He said, “In my respectful view, the National Judicial Council has no role to play in the appointment of an acting Chief Justice of Nigeria in the first instance, that is to say on first appointment.

“The council comes in where the appointment as the acting CJN is to be renewed or extended. I humbly refer to Section 231(4) of the 1999 Constitution.

“It was for the larger interest of the judiciary and the constitutionality that I accepted to be sworn in as acting CJN with the conviction that if the order of January 23, 2019 is eventually set aside, the status quo would be restored.

“But before it is set aside, there should be no vacuum in the office of the CJN and the chairman of the NJC.

“On January 25, 2019, I was summoned to the Aso Villa at the instance of the President. Prior to the summons, I was not aware of the fact that the Code of Conduct Tribunal made any order on January 23, 2019.

“Furthermore, beyond what I read in the newspapers and watched on the television just like any other Nigerian, I was not privileged to see any of the processes filed by the parties before the tribunal. Hence, I could not really appreciate the merit or demerit of divergent positions.

“On the 25th day of January, the President swore me in as the acting CJN and not as the substantive CJN. Justice Walter Onnoghen remains the CJN until he is removed from office in accordance with the provision of the constitution. He is only suspended.”

The Acting CJN said that he was a member of the NJC panel that removed Justice Obisike Orji of the Abia State High Court for accepting to be sworn in as chief judge by the Abia State Government without a recommendation of the NJC but added that his own case was different because he was only appointed as an acting CJN.

Muhammad appealed to the NJC to throw aside the petition written against him by a group, Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.

The group had written a petition to the NJC, demanding that the council to remove Muhammad as a justice of the Supreme Court.

They said Muhammad compromised by allowing himself to be sworn in by the President without recourse to the NJC.

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Pastor accused of breaking member’s marriage

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Mr Tertsea Daagu, a member of the NKST Church, has accused a Pastor of the Church, Terlanga Unongu, of “causing confusion” in his relationship with his wife, Wandoo Daagu.

Daagu stated this during his defense in a divorce case brought against him by his wife, before a Makurdi Upper Area Court.

“I have never beaten my wife or accused her of adultery; it is my wife that admitted before our NKST Church Committee that she has committed adultery with one Rev Terlanga Unongu, a Pastor of the Church.

“I have not accused my wife of having an affair, but she has confessed to having an affair with Rev Terlanga Unongu.

“In 2007, she confessed to having an intimate affair with the Pastor when the Church committee took up the matter. I have the evidence with me written in Tiv language.

“Though the committee could not give an appropriate resolution, we appealed to the General Synod where a resolution was passed.”

He denied ever beating the woman, and claimed that she left his house with the approval of her father.

Daagu said that he was not opposed to divorce, adding that he was also not opposed to his wife having full access to their three kids.

It was gathered that Mrs. Wandoo Daagu had petitioned the court to dissolve the marriage, citing alleged brutality and “unnecessary” accusations of infidelity.

Wandoo, who said that she married her husband according to the Tiv Native Laws and Customs at Amua, Gaav in Konshisha Local Government Area in 2000, told the court that there was no longer love between them.

“We have three children; after nursing our last daughter, my husband started accusing me of being unfaithful.

“He kept attacking me and would be beat me up at the slightest provocation. I reported this cruelty to his parents, but instead of intervening, they took sides with him,” she said.

Wandoo said that she left Daagu’s house in 2008, when the cruelty became unbearable.

“Since I left his house, my husband has never visited me or my parents to discuss our issue. He has no respect for my parents,” she said.

She urged the court to dissolve the marriage and grant her full access to their three children.

The Judge, Ms Adole Akintomide, has adjourned the case to Dec. 14, for judgment.

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South Korea to donate $8m in aid for hungry North

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South Korea approved $8 million in humanitarian aid for the impoverished North on Wednesday, authorities said, with negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal deadlocked and inter-Korean relations at a standstill.

It will be the first such aid Seoul has provided Pyongyang since 2015 and follows the North’s lowest recorded harvest for a decade, according to the United Nations.

The donation — to be made through the UN — comes as President Moon Jae-in seeks to salvage diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington following the breakdown of the Hanoi summit when Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump failed to reach a deal on the North’s nuclear programme and sanctions relief.

Pyongyang has since largely cut off contact with both Seoul and Washington, with the South’s unification minister saying this week he had last spoken to a North Korean official at the beginning of May.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, said the government had approved a plan to provide the funds amid concerns over the “worsening food situation”.

It will be given $4.5 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to help address malnutrition, along with $3.5 million to UNICEF for health issues among children and pregnant women.

More than 10 million North Koreans — 40 percent of the population — were suffering from severe food shortages, according to recent UN estimates. The figure is similar to recent years.

“WFP and other international bodies have requested assistance to the North on the back of concerns for deteriorating conditions among the vulnerable there,” the ministry said in a statement.

It is the first humanitarian aid implemented by Moon’s government, but a North Korean propaganda outlet has already dismissed it as “non-essential” for inter-Korean relations.

If the South “sincerely wishes for sustained development, peace and prosperity”, it should implement the inter-Korean economic joint projects agreed last year instead of “raising the issue of humanitarian aid”, the state-run Uriminzokkiri website said in a commentary last month.

Several sets of sanctions, imposed on the North over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, currently block many proposed developments.

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Tragedy as gunmen behead businessman in Rivers

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Gunmen on Wednesday night killed and beheaded a middle-aged businessman simply identified as Chima.

It was gathered that the victim was shot and killed before he was beheaded by his assailants in the presence of his wife at Rumuekini community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

An eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that the incident happened around 11:00 p.m., adding that the killers put off the victim’s power generating set as a ploy to lure him out of his house.

It was gathered that the victim came out to check why his generator suddenly went off but was accosted by the gunmen, who shot, killed and beheaded him.

The source said, “The incident is shocking. Last night, Chima sat outside with his brothers and friends at a joint on the school road.

“Later around 11:00 p.m., we heard that he was attacked in his house. We heard that the killers turned off his generator and when he went outside to find out what happened to the generator, he was attacked.

“Immediately he came out, the boys shot him. He managed to run back into his house with the bullet, but the boys followed him, killed him and cut off his head.”

Another source explained that the hoodlums had ordered the wife of the deceased to bring a kitchen knife after they had killed her husband.

It was learnt that the gunmen used the kitchen knife to behead their victim and also ordered his wife to carry the head of her husband in a bucket into a waiting car before they zoomed off.

The killing and beheading of late Chima on Wednesday occurred despite the state governor’s stern warning to sanction Local Government chairmen and traditional rulers who condone criminality in their domain.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in Rivers State Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident.

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