.Justice Kayode Ariwoola

By Innocent Anaba

A civil society group, Access to Justice, has called on the in-coming Chief Justice of Nigeria, to declare a state of emergency in the country’s judiciary.

It also called on the new head of the judiciary to take every step necessary to restore the health, efficiency, authority and accountability of the judicial arm of government.

Convener of Access to Justice, Mr. Joseph Otteh in a statement on Monday, while reacting to the resignation of the CJN, said: “The news of the resignation of CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad draws the curtain over the illustrious career of Justice Mohammad, who rose from humble beginnings to become Nigeria’s Chief Justice.

“Although circumstances of his emergence as Chief Justice remain controversial, Access to Justice commends the Chief Justice for the decision to step down, following reported health concerns.  A decision to give up an office with so much influence, prestige and power cannot come lightly, and a less forthright person may have chosen a different course of action.

“By this action, Justice Muhammad has shown utmost responsibility of office and personal integrity.

“The space now available for filling the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria offers a new opportunity for rebooting the Judiciary and resetting it on a path of renewal and re-energization. Nigeria’s Judiciary has, for too long been hung over by dark clouds, and has performed poorly across a number of performance indices.

“Public confidence is at low thresholds, and the judiciary’s transparency and accountability has come under increasing question. All this is taking place while the welfare of judges is dwindling, and the independence and autonomy of the judicial department are increasingly undermined by government.

“The next incumbent of the office of CJN, now vacated by Chief Justice Muhammad, must declare a state of emergency in the judiciary, and take every step necessary to restore the health, efficiency, authority and accountability of the judicial arm of government,” he added.

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