The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Justice Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The confirmation followed the screening conducted by the upper legislative chamber in the Committee of the Whole on Wednesday.
The red chamber had, on arrival of Muhammad into the chamber, gone into a closed session to set the template for the screening.
Muhammad, who arrived at the Senate at around 10.10am, was ushered into the chamber around 11.13am.
The CJN, for about two hours, answered questions on corruption, administration of criminal justice and the poor funding of the judiciary, among others.
In response to questions by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, on corruption in the judiciary, the CJN said some judges in lower courts were guilty.
He said, “I always say that Nigeria’s judiciary is part and parcel of Nigeria; therefore I am not surprise if I see some justices are corrupt but that such judges who are corrupt should be identified and prosecuted under our laws.”
He therefore charged the federal parliament to come up with new legislation or amend obsolete ones to strengthen the existing laws.
“Let us amend them, let us take care of all the lapses in our laws. Let us provide adequately so that it will serve as guide to these anomalies. It is the duty of the legislature to sensitise the society,” he stated.
The CJN also lamented the poor funding of the judiciary, stressing that the development could affect speedy administration of justice.
In response to questions on the controversial verdicts of the Appeal and Supreme courts on the Osun governorship election, he admitted that the technicalities employed in the majority judgment provided leeway for double interpretation.
The Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, had asked Justice Muhammad to explain the conflicts in the pronouncements of the Supreme Court on the issue of technicalities, particularly as they affected some judgments.
Muhammad said, “Something which is technical by definition is something that is not usual, that may sometimes defy all the norms known to normal things, it may be technical.
“It may be interpreted one way by Mr A or it may be interpreted the other way by Mr B.
“If something technical comes before the court, what we normally do is the trial court will ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field. Technicality is in law. It is something that has to do with the perception or the way you think you can achieve the goals for what you want to achieve.”
On financial autonomy, he said, “What is keeping the judiciary back is the lack of autonomy. We are not asking for anything more than what is provided in the budget.
“Believe me, if you go to some states, you will find out that the judiciary is refused even the normal monthly grant.
“They have houses, offices to maintain, and where they are collecting revenue they are not supposed to dip their hands into the revenue because their revenue must go back to the state.”
He added, “The Federation will allocate something to you through the ministry or department but things are not as they used to be.
“It is therefore, I think, the duty, the responsibility of the legislature at the national level and at the state level to see that we touch these places so that you close all the ends
“We don’t have any other way. What is the allowance of the justice of the Supreme Court, what does it amount to. If I tell you, you will laugh.” [PUNCH]