In what could be a major blow to the integrity of the judiciary, Justices of the Supreme Court have accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), His Lordship, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, of corruption.
Muhammad had stepped into office after Walter Onnoghen, his predecessor, was removed on a controversial note.
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 levelled 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.
Muhammad, who has been in charge of the nation’s apex court since then, is now facing a major test of integrity.
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.
“Your lordship received and ignored these demands since 24th March 2022.”
“In the past, justices were nominated to attend two to three foreign workshops or training per annum with accompanying persons for reasons of age. Since your Lordship’s assumption of office, Justices only attend two workshops in Dubai and Zanzibar. They were not accorded the privilege of travelling with accompanying persons as was the practice.
“Your Lordship totally ignored this demand and yet travelled with your spouse, children, and personal staff. We demand to know what has become our training funds, have they been diverted, or it’s a plain denial.
“Your lordship may also remember that the national assembly has increased the budgetary allocation of the Judiciary. We find it strange that in spite of the upward review of our budgetary allocation, the Court cannot cater for our legitimate entitlements. This is unacceptable!”