The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, on Tuesday, received a fresh order to probe the erstwhile Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammed over the allegations of corruption raised against him by some justices of the Supreme Court.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has then mandated the Committee led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele to probe the allegations leveled against the ex-CJN and the crisis presently rocking the judiciary.
Lawan said, “ The chamber mandates the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to go ahead with its assignment in the quest to find a lasting solution to the matter by interacting with relevant stakeholders to address the complaints raised in the petition by the Justices of the Supreme Court.
The Senate “Mandate the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to interface with the relevant stakeholders in the three Arms of Government as well as at the Bar and on the Bench to collate aggregate views and positions on the short term, medium term and long term measures needed to decisively address the crisis facing the Judiciary, including the immediate fiscal intervention as well as long term and sustainable budgetary allocations, required for the optimal performance of the Judiciary, in line with global best practices; and urge the Senate to wish the Hon. Chief Justice well, following many years of meritorious service to the nation and to pray for his good health.”
The Senate noted that on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Lawan drew the attention of the Senate to the media reports on the state of affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, whereby Justices of the Court, through a petition signed by majority of them, raised issues bothering on deplorable welfare conditions and difficult working environment for the Justices, which was addressed to the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council.
He also noted that the President of the Senate emphasised the need for the Senate to urgently step into the matter as any issue that concerns the Judiciary is an issue of urgent national importance that the Senate could not afford to sit idly by and allow to spiral out of control.
Accordingly, the President of the Senate directed the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to get involved in the matter with a view to unravelling the root cause of the recent development in the Judiciary and how best the Senate can intervene in order to address the concerns raised by the Justices.
Lawan noted that Justices were taciturn and reticent in handling issues outside their judicial domain but resorting to such measures in order to protect the Judiciary, required the Senate to rise up to the occasion to ensure that their demands were addressed.
The committee chairman, Senator Bamidele said his team was taking steps to look into the matter as directed by the President of the Senate by making arrangements to interface with relevant stakeholders both at the Bar and on the Bench.
Bamidele said, “The poor welfare of Judicial Officers would affect the delivery of the judiciary in respect of their output and will prevent them from performing optimally.
“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.”
Bamidele added that it is a regret that the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed on Sunday, June 27, 2022, voluntarily resigned his appointment on grounds of ill-health, leaving the most senior Justice to act as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. However, this development would not prevent the Committee from going ahead with its assignment in the quest to find a probable lasting solution to the matter.
He stated, “Though Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed 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 shutdown of the Judiciary.”
The PUNCH reported that Muhammad’s resignation was made public on Monday morning after he tendered his resignation on the grounds of ill-health. Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria, lawyers, civil rights groups and some branches of the Nigerian Bar Association on Monday called for the probe of the erstwhile Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad.