President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the appointment of Mr Tanko Muhammad as acting chief justice of Nigeria by another three months.
Buhari sent the recommendation to National Judicial Council and the supervisory body approved the appointment on Thursday, a spokesperson for NJC, Mr Soji Oye, said in a statement on Saturday.
Muhammad was first appointed in January after the president controversially suspended Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen who was accused of false declaration of asset.
Mr Onnoghen was convicted on Thursday by Code of Conduct Tribunal, and was barred from holding public office for 10 years. He has denied all allegations against him, and has appealed the ruling.
The president’s suspension of Onnoghen sparked uproar as the move was deemed unconstitutional.
Also, coming just weeks before the February presidential election, it raised suspicions, with the opposition accusing Buhari of moving to appoint a stooge who would ensure judicial support after the polls would have been rigged.
Onnoghen notified two weeks ago he was stepping down, but the Presidency has yet to announce whether his exit had been approved by the president.
In what appeared to be the first pointer to the Presidency’s decision, a statement by presidential aide Garba Shehu on Thursday, following Mr Onnoghen’s conviction, referred to him as “former” CJN.
The statement released on Saturday by the NJC denied an unnamed media report that the council would meet next week to deliberate on the extension of Muhammad’s term as the acting chief justice of Nigeria.
It said the approval had already been given.