By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
There is confusion over the health status of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
Whereas the Supreme Court, in a statement that was signed by its Director of Press and Information, Dr Akande Festus, debunked report that there is anxiety over the CJN’s health, a Justice of the Court, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, reportedly confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Justice Saulawa who was said to have made the disclosure during the unveiling ceremony of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria, MULAN, in Abuja on Tuesday, further revealed that the CJN is currently receiving treatment in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Justice Saulawa is one of the eight Justices that were recently elevated to the Supreme Court.
Absence of the CJN at the swearing-in of 72 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, on Monday, an event that coincided with a special court session the Supreme Court held to mark its new legal year, had raised speculations over his health condition.
He was represented at the event by the second highest ranking Justices of the court, Bode Rhodes-Vivour.
Meanwhile, the apex court, in its statement, said the fact that the CJN was “unavoidably absent” at the function, was not enough to conclude that there is anxiety over his health.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to the story currently in circulation with the above caption which was published on page 38 of This Day newspaper on Tuesday 15th December 2020.
“It is necessary to state that there’s no iota of truth in the claim being peddled by the publication, as there hasn’t been any indication made public or otherwise that has shown any anxiety over the CJN’s health.
“This is obviously a product of the imagination of the author of the concocted story which has literally failed the test of sound, investigative journalism as no form of enquiries were made by the Reporter before hitting the public domain with this baggage of falsehoods to mislead the public by crying wolf where none is in sight.
“The Hon. CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad being unavoidably absent at a function is not enough to plunge into this premeditated conclusion that there’s now “anxiety over his health.”
“The other aspect of this monumental falsehood is the erroneous claim that the “CJN has not been seen in public for weeks.”
“We are still at a loss as to where the Reporter got that malicious information from, as the CJN has been very active and even presided over the swearing-in of the newly appointed Justices of the Supreme Court a few weeks back.
“It should be noted that no business survives on falsehood. You cannot whip up sentiments through sensational reports to attract traffic to your media organisation.
“Certainly such practice leads to nowhere. We must eschew acts capable of eroding our good values at all times”, the statement read.
The CJN had in his prepared speech that was read by Justice Rhodes-Vivour during the event on Monday, decried the impact of what he termed as “ravaging coronavirus pandemic” on the Judiciary.
He said: “As it is often said, man proposes, God disposes. We have just witnessed, for the first time in the history of Nigerian Judiciary, a situation where normal court sitting became a very risky adventure.
“Even though no one disputes the fact that the Judiciary renders essential services that, largely, help in stabilizing the society, I have to point out the equally pertinent fact that everybody, including the judicial officers, has just one life, as the coronavirus pandemic, at its peak, brazenly presented a scenario of life and death that no mortal could contest.
“As for our loved ones and all others across the globe who succumbed to the excruciating pangs of Covid-19 pandemic, I pray that their souls continue to rest in the bosom of the Almighty God.
“From all indications, space is gradually opening up for us to begin to embrace the new normal, which has euphemistically become the new world order.
“If what the scientists and medical experts are telling us is anything to go by, Covid-19 will remain with us for as long as God permits, even if the vaccines are readily available. May God see us through!”.