The Senate says it will still go ahead with the investigation of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, despite his recent resignation from office.
This was sequel to a motion on Matter of Urgent Public Importance titled, ‘State of Affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Demand by Justices of the Court’, moved by the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Banidele (APC-Ekiti).
The initial decision to probe the CJN follows the alleged financial mismanagement and poor state of affairs of Nigeria’s judiciary in a leaked letter by the 14 justices of the Supreme Court to Tanko Muhammad.
Following prayers of the motion, the senate resolved to mandate the committee to go ahead with its assignment in the quest to find a lasting solution to the matter by interacting with relevant stakeholders.
This is expected to help address the issues raised in the petition by the Justices of the Supreme Court.
The upper chamber also mandated the committee to interface with the relevant stakeholders in the three arms of government as well as at the Bar and the Bench.
What Senator Bamidele is saying in the motion
While moving the motion pursuant to Rules 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Orders, Bamidele noted that poor welfare of judicial officers would affect the delivery of the judiciary in respect of their output and would prevent them not to perform optimally.
He said, “The sacred image of the judiciary, which is the epicentre of the temple of justice should be preserved by the Senate through appropriate legislative measures in order to safeguard this highly revered institution and prevent it from being ridiculed.’’
The lawmaker who regretted the former CJN’s resignation said that “this development will not prevent the committee from going ahead with its assignment in the quest to find a probable lasting solution to the matter.
“Even though Muhammad has stepped down as CJN, most of the issues raised by the Justices of the Supreme Court and other stakeholders within the judiciary still remain and need to be addressed urgently to prevent an eventual shut-down of the Judiciary.”
The judiciary needs support and should not lack funding
Supporting the motion, Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said “this motion will show clearly that the Senate is not unaware of the role it is supposed to play.
Of course, in playing that role, we also respect separation of powers. Our concern is that the judiciary as an arm of government deserves all the support it needs been the last hope as far as the rule of law is concerned.”
Also speaking the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege said, “I am very embarrassed as a lawyer and also someone from the judicial family.
“Seeing that petition on the social media and eventually on the mainstream media, I was taken aback because it has never happened, it is unprecedented.
“There is no reason why the judiciary should lack anything financially.”
In his own remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said, “I can see most of the emphasis is on funding.
“When we look into the issues, they go beyond funding.
“We should look at other areas whether there is need to improve on the structures or having issues that may not be about funding but funding is of course a major issue.”
In case you missed it
- Recall that on June 20, 14 Supreme Court judges lamented the poor state of affairs in the court in a letter sent to the Chief Justice, Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad.
- In the leaked letter, the Justices accused the CJN of refusing to address the issues despite drawing his attention to them as well as complained of a lack of residential accommodation and vehicles at the court.
- The justices further accused the CJN of gallivanting with his “spouse, children and personal staff,” while not allowing them to travel with an assistant on foreign trips.
- The justices decried the lack of legal research assistants, despite the magnitude of cases being adjudicated.
- On erratic electricity supply, the justices said they have been confined to work between the “hours of 8 a.m and 4 p.m daily, for lack of diesel,” after they were notified of the development by the Supreme Court’s Chief Registrar, Hajo Bello.
- In a dramatic twist, the former CJN, Muhammad, had on Monday, June 27, resigned from his position, reportedly on health grounds.