THERE is confusion over the leadership of Nigeria’s judiciary following reports that Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Muhammad has resigned.
According to Channels Television, sources disclosed that the CJN resigned on Sunday night.
Ill-health was cited as the reason for the decision.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, is set to be sworn-in as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, according to sources.
It was gathered that arrangements are being made for Justice Ariwoola’s inauguration.
Sources in the Supreme Court said a formal announcement will be made soon.
CJN’s spokesman says he’s not aware of the resignation
However, the spokesman of the CJN Isa Ahuraka told The ICIR on Monday morning that he was not aware of Muhammad’s resignation.
As reports of the resignation made the rounds on June 27, The ICIR contacted the CJN’s spokesman for confirmation.
“I am not aware that he has resigned,” Ahuraka said.
President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Muhammad as substantive CJN on July 11, 2019, following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.
Muhammad had previously served as Chief Magistrate of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Judge at the Bauchi State Sharia Court of Appeal and Justice of the Court of Appeal.
He was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2006 but was sworn in on 7 January 2007.
Clash with 14 Supreme Court justices
The CJN’s reported resignation is coming on the heels of his clash with 14 Justices of the Supreme Court, who recently addressed a protest to him to protest against several issues in the apex court and the judiciary.
They accused the CJN of corruption, claiming he has been depriving them of their entitlements.
According to them, their annual foreign training, meant to enhance capacity of the judicial officers, had been blocked by the CJN.
Other issues raised by the 14 Supreme Court justices in the protest letter include non-replacement of poor vehicles, accommodation problem, lack of drugs at the apex court clinic, poor electricity supply in the court, hike of electricity tariff, lack of internet services to residences and chambers and non-provision of allowances for diesel.
The CJN replied the apex court justices in a statement issued by Ahuraka.
Although he offered explanations for the issues raised by the judicial officers, the CJN noted that the justices are meant to be seen and not heard.
“Judges in all climes are to be seen and not heard, and that informed why the CJN refrained from joining issues until a letter, said to be personal, is spreading across the length and breadth of the society. This was akin to dancing naked at the market square by us with the ripple effect of the said letter,” the CJN said in the statement released by Ahuraka on June 21.
Update: Ariwoola has been sworn in as the acting CJN.