Justices of the Supreme Court have accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), His Lordship Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, of corruption, which might be a serious blow to judicial integrity.
Muhammad assumed office after his predecessor, Walter Onnoghen, was ousted on a controversial note.
Onnoghen was suspended in 2019 after a civil rights group petitioned the Code of Conduct Bureau against him (CCB).
Among the accusations made against him was the ownership of hidden foreign accounts that were managed in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the public officials’ code of conduct.
Although he contested the charges, on April 18, 2019, the Code of Conduct Tribunal convicted Onnoghen of making a fraudulent declaration of his assets and disqualified him from holding public office for ten years.
Muhammad, who has been in charge of the nation’s highest court since then, is currently facing a significant integrity test.
In a protest letter signed by fourteen Supreme Court justices, Muhammad was accused of depriving the justices of their legal entitlements.
The justices reported that Muhammad had obstructed their annual training abroad, which was intended to strengthen the court system’s capacity.
In their letter, the justices raised the following issues via a welfare committee: non-replacement of poor vehicles; accommodation problem; lack of medications at the Supreme Court clinic; epileptic electricity supply to the Supreme Court; increase in electricity tariff; no increase in diesel allowances; lack of internet services to residences and chambers.
“Your Majesty has received and disregarded these demands since March 24, 2022.”
“In the past, justices were nominated to participate in two to three overseas workshops or training sessions each year with accompanying individuals due to their advanced age. Since your Lordship’s assumption of office, only two workshops have been held in Dubai and Zanzibar for Justices. As was customary, they were not granted the privilege of travelling with companions.”
“Your Majesty completely disregarded this request and yet travelled with your spouse, children, and personal staff. We demand to know what happened to our training monies, if they were diverted, or if a refusal has been issued.
“Your lordship may also recall that the national assembly has enhanced the Judiciary’s budgetary allotment. We find it odd that despite an increase in our budgetary allotment, the Court is unable to meet our rightful entitlements. This is inadmissible!