By Haruna Salami
The Senate on Tuesday resolved to continue its investigation on the state of affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and demand by Justices of the Court, despite the resignation of Justice Mohammed Tanko, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.
The upper chamber resolved to mandate its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to go ahead with its assignment in the quest to find a lasting solution to the matter by interacting with relevant stakeholders to address the complaints raised in the petition by the Justices of the Supreme Court.
This was sequel to a motion on “Matter of urgent public importance on the state of affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and demand by Justices of the Court moved l by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central ), Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Senate also mandated the Committee to interface with the relevant stakeholders in the three arms of government as well as at the Bar and on the Bench and other stakeholders to 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.
It will be recalled that on Tuesday 21 June, 2022, the Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan drew the attention of Senate to the media reports on the state of affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, whereby Justices of the Court, through a petition signed by majority of them, raised issues bordering on deplorable welfare conditions and difficult working environment for the Justices, which was addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council.
Lawan then emphasised “the need for the Senate to urgently step into the matter as any issue that concerns the Judiciary is an issue of urgent national importance that the Senate cannot afford to sit-idly by and allow to spiral out of control”.
The Senate noted that the poor welfare of Judicial Officers would affect the delivery of the judiciary in respect of their output and will prevent them not to perform optimally.
The red chamber observed 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.
It was on that basis that the Senate President directed the Senate Committee on Judiciary 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 both at the Bar and on the Bench.
The Senate regreted that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed on Monday 27th June, 2022, voluntarily resigned his appointment on grounds of ill-health, leaving the most senior Justice to act as 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.
Therefore, the Senate observed further that even though Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed 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 short-down of the Judiciary.