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.
Tanko Mohammed had just been accused of corruption by 14 Supreme Court Justices, which the former Chief Justice of Nigeria disputed.
The Committee, chaired by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has now been given permission by Senate President Ahmad Lawan to look into the accusations made against the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and the turmoil that is currently roiling the judiciary.
“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 permanent resolution to the issue by engaging with relevant stakeholders to address the complaints raised in the petition by the Justices of the Supreme Court,” Lawan said.
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“Mandate the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to interface with the relevant stakeholders in the three pillars of government as well as at the bar and on the bench to collate aggregate views and positions on the short-, medium-, 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,” the Senate stated in its resolution.
The Senate took note that on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Lawan called the Senate’s attention to media reports on the situation at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In a petition addressed to the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council, the Justices of the Court raised concerns about their appalling living conditions and challenging working conditions.
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He further pointed out that the Senate President emphasised the necessity for the Senate to act quickly because any problem involving the judiciary is one of critical national importance, which the Senate could not afford to ignore and let to get out of hand.
The Senate’s President instructed the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters to investigate the situation in order to determine what led to the current development in the judiciary and how the Senate may effectively respond to the issues expressed by the Justices.
Lawan observed that although Justices tended to be reserved and taciturn when dealing with matters outside of their purview as judges, when they resorted to such drastic means to defend the Judiciary, the Senate had to rise to the challenge and make sure that their demands were met.
The committee’s chairman, Senator Bamidele, stated that his team was establishing contact with pertinent parties at the Bar and on the Bench in order to conduct an investigation as instructed by the Senate’s president.
According to Bamidele, “the underwhelming welfare of judicial officers would impair the delivery of the judiciary in relation to their production and would prohibit them from operating at their best.
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“In order to defend this highly esteemed institution and prevent it from being ridiculed, the Senate should preserve the sacred image of the Judiciary, which is the epicentre of the temple of justice.”
Bamidele continued, “It is regrettable that on Sunday, June 27, 2022, the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed, voluntarily resigned his position on the grounds of ill-health, designating the most senior Justice to serve in the capacity of acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.” This development would not, however, stop the Committee from carrying out its mandate in the search for a likely long-term solution to the problem.
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The majority of the issues raised by the Justices of the Supreme Court and other stakeholders within the judiciary still need to be addressed urgently in order to prevent an eventual shutdown of the judiciary, the speaker said, even though Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed has resigned as CJN.
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