Senate moves to probe Justice Tanko Muhammad despite resignation


Tanko Muhammad

The Senate on Tuesday declared that allegations against Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad will be investigated despite his resignation as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

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

Bamidele’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).”

Muhammad had resigned on Monday amid the corruption allegations some Supreme Court judges leveled against him. although the former CJN cited that the resignation was on health grounds.

In a protest memo signed by 14 Supreme Court judges, Muhammad was accused of not giving justices their legitimate entitlements.

The justices said their annual foreign training, meant to enhance capacity building for the country’s judicial process, had been blocked by Muhammad.

The main issues put forward by the justices in their letter through a welfare committee were; non-replacement of poor vehicles; accommodation problem; lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic; epileptic electricity supply to the Supreme Court; increase in electricity tariff; no increase in the allowances for diesel; lack of internet services to residences and chambers.

They also claimed that while Muhammad made provisions for his personal staff and family members to travel abroad, only a few judges have had the opportunity under his administration.

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However, Muhammad had replied to the judges, giving a breakdown of the expenses that the nation’s apex court made under him.

He had also explained that he refrained from joining issues with the judges until the letter which ought to be personal started spreading the society.

“This was akin to dancing naked at the market square by us with the ripple effect of the said letter,” Muhammad had said in his response, adding, “The Supreme Court definitely does not exist outside its environment, it is also affected by the economic and socio-political climate prevailing in the country. Besides that, the Apex Court has to a larger extent, been living to its constitutional responsibility.

“The accusation so far, in summary, is that more or all ought to have been done and not that nothing has been done; which is utopian in the contemporary condition of our country.”

Muhammad had stepped into office after Walter Onnoghen, his predecessor, was removed on a controversial note in 2019.

Onnoghen was suspended in 2019 after a civil rights group filed a petition against him at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Among the allegations leveled against him was owning some secret foreign accounts, which were run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.

Although he denied the allegations, Onnoghen was convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on April 18, 2019, for false assets declaration, and banned from holding public office for 10 years.

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