ONNOGHEN, Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu (GCON)

Born December 22, 1950

Okurike Town, Biase LGA, Cross River State

After being nominated as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Hon Justice Onnoghen was confirmed by the Senate on 1st March, 2017, and sworn in on the 7th of March, 2017. On January 11, 2019, a petition filed by the civil rights group against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) alleging that he owns ” sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself up to as recently as 10th August 2016, which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.” On January 14, 2019, The trial commenced January 14, 2019 at Code of Conduct Tribunal but Onnoghen was absent. It was then adjourned to the following week. The next hearing was slated for January 22, 2019 but he failed to show up in court again. Following his absence again, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended him on January 25, 2019. On April 4, 2019, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen resigned. This happened a day after the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended that he be compulsorily retired for misconduct.’
Gender: Male
Name of Spouse Mrs Nkoyo Walter-Onnoghen
State of Origin: Cross River State
Father's Name Nkanu Onnoghen
Mother's Name
Profession Honourable Justice
Working Experience
Previous Appointments:

– Pupil State Counsel, Ministry of Justice, Ikeja, Lagos State, 1978-1979;

– Partner, Effiom Ekong & Company, Calabar, Cross River State, 1979-1988;

– Principal Partner/Head of Chamber, Walter Onnoghen & Associates, Calabar, Cross River State, 1988-1989;

– Judge, High Court, Cross Rivers State Judiciary, Calabar, Cross River State, 1989-1998;

– Chairman of Cross Rivers State Armed Robbery and Firm Arms Tribunal, 1990- 1993;

– Judge, High Court, River State, 1992-2004;

– Chairman, Judicial Enquiry into the Crisis between Students of the University of Calabar and Obufa Esuk Orok Community, Calabar, Cross River State, 1996;

– Chairman, Failed Bank Tribunal, Ibadan Zone, 1998;

– Justice of the Court of Appeal, 1998-2005;

– Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, 2005-;

– Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, 2016;

– Chief Justice of Nigeria, March 2017 (resigned in 2019).

SCHOOLS ATTENDED: Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike Town, Cross River State, 1959-1965; Odorgonno Senior High School, Accra, Ghana, 1967-1972; Accra Academy, Accra, Ghana,1972-1974; University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, 1974-1977; Nigerian Law School, Lagos, 1977-1978.


In 2007, Justice Onnoghen played a huge role in 2007 election which saw the Late Umaru Yar’adua as President of the federal republic of Nigeria. He had a dissenting judgment that indeed annulled the presidential election. His position was however a minority judgment.

In February 2016, Justice Onnoghen led a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court who reviewed and upheld the death sentence of Chukwuemeka Ezeugo (aka Rev. King) of the Christian Praying Assembly.

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