***I am very embarrassed as a lawyer and also someone from the judicial family, Omo- Agege
- Says there is no reason why the judiciary should lack anything financially
By Henry Umoru, ABUJA
DESPITE his resignation as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, the Senate yesterday resolved to probe face off between the immediate past CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad and Supreme Court Justices on the menacing swirling allegations of corruption presently rocking the Judiciary.
Consequently, the Senate yesterday mandated the Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti Central led 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 Upper chamber has also mandated 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 and 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.
The Senate also resolved to wish the Hon. Chief Justice well, following many years of meritorious service to the nation and to pray for his good health.
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion titled, ” Matter of Urgent Public Importance on the State of Affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Demand by Justices of the Court, pursuit to rules 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022, as Amended.”
The Motion was sponsored by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central.
Recall that the Senate had last week intervened into the corruption allegation presently rocking the Judiciary as it mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele to Investigate the faceoff between the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Mohammed
Also recall that recently, 14 Justices of the Supreme Court leveled allegations of corruption against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed.
The Justices, in a memo, protested the non-payment of legitimate entitlements by the CJN.
According to them, annual foreign training, meant to enhance capacity building for the country’s judicial process, had been blocked.
They also protested against the non-replacement of poor vehicles; accommodation problem; lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic; epileptic electricity supply to the Supreme Court; increase in electricity tariff; no increase in the allowances for diesel; lack of internet services to residences and chambers, amongst others.
But, Justice Tanko had denied allegations raised against him by Supreme Court Justices.
Presenting the motion yesterday, Senator Bamidele said that “The Senate Recalls that on Tuesday 21 June, 2022, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (Ph.D), CON, drew the attention of 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 bordering on deplorable welfare conditions and difficult working environment for the Justices, which was addressed to the Hon. The Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council.
“Notes 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 cannot afford to sit-idly by and allow to spiral out of control.”
Bamidele said further that the Senate “Notes also that poor welfare of Judicial Officers would affect the delivery of the judiciary in respect of their output and will prevent them not to perform optimally.
“Observes that 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. 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;
“Observes also that Justices are taciturn and reticent in handling issues outside their judicial domain but resorting to such measures in order to protect the Judiciary, requires the Senate to rise up to the occasion to ensure that their demands are addressed.
“Further observes that the Committee is taking steps to look into the matter as directed by the President of the Senate by making arrangement to interface with relevant stakeholders both at the Bar and on the Bench.
“Regrets that the Hon. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed on Sunday 27th June, 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 will not prevent the Committee from going ahead with its assignment in the quest to find a probable lasting solution to the matter.
“Observes further that even 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 short-down of the Judiciary.”
In his contribution, the deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, APC, Delta Central 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’s unprecedented.”
He further said that a recognition ought to be made that the judicial arm is an independent arm of government, adding, “There is no reason why the judiciary should lack anything financially.”
In his remarks President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said, ” I can see most of the emphadis 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 structure or having issues that may not be about funding, but funding is of course is a major issue.”