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CJN’s resignation: Senate insists probe of corruption allegation.

The Senate has said the resignation of former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, will not stop its probe of corruption allegations levelled against him by the Justices of the Supreme Court.

The resolution of the Senate followed a motion by the Chairman of its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele.

The Ekiti Central senator’s motion was titled: “Matter of urgent public importance on the state of affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and demand by Justices of the court, pursuant to rules 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended).”

In his lead debate, Bamidele urged the Senate to recall that on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Senate President Ahmad Lawan drew the attention of the Red Chamber to reports on the state of affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The reports showed that Justices of the Court, in a petition by majority of them, raised issues bordering on deplorable welfare conditions and difficult working environment they were facing.

The petition was addressed to the CJN and Chairman of National Judicial Council (NJC).

Bamidele recalled that Lawan emphasised the need for the Senate to urgently step into the matter.

He said the Senate President stressed that any issue about the Judiciary should be treated as carrying urgent national importance that the Senate could not afford to allow to go out of control.

The Ekiti Central senator also noted that poor welfare of judicial officers would affect the delivery of the justice, especially in the area of justices’ output, which would prevent them not to perform optimally.

Bamidele added: “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 at the Bar and on the Bench.

“Regrets that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, on Sunday, June 27, 2022, voluntarily resigned his appointment on grounds of ill-health, leaving the most senior Justice to become 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 Muhammad 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 shutdown of the Judiciary.”

In approving the prayers of the motion, the Senate mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to go ahead with its assignment (probe) in the quest to find a lasting solution to the matter.

The Senate urged the committee to interact with relevant stakeholders to address the complaints raised in the petition by the Justices of the Supreme Court.

It also directed the panel 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 approved a prayer, which urged it “to wish the Hon. Chief Justice well, following many years of meritorious service to the nation and to pray for his good health”.

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