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Some Lawyers have expressed concerns that people will lose faith in the judicial system of the country if the Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad is not made to answer the allegations against him.
The resignation of Mohammad has been described as a way to run away from all allegations against him.
The lawyers opine that the prosecution of Mohammad will restore the faith of the common man in the Nigerian Judicial system.
Muhammad, who was supposed to retire on the last day of 2023 tendered his resignation as the CJN on Monday amid corruption allegations in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari citing health reasons.
The President has since honoured he now former CJN with Grand Commander Order of the Niger, GCON, swearing in the Iseyin born Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting CJN.
Crisis began in the judicial system with the integrity of the CJN questioned when 14 Supreme Court Judges in a protest memo accused Muhammad of blocking their foreign training.
They also accused him of failure to cater for the Judges legitimate entitlements despite increased budgetary allocation of the judiciary.
Muhammad came in with high expectations following the controversial removal of his predecessor, Walter Onnoghen in 2019 for false asset declaration.
Though the embattled CJN had responded to the allegations with a breakdown of the expenses of the supreme court under him, judges who were affected are still not satisfied with the explanation.
Lawyers who spoke with PLATFORM TIMES alleged that Mohammad might have gotten hint from his associates that resigning might be the best option to save him from the allegations.
The Chairperson Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)-Young Lawyers Forum (YLF) Ijebu-Ode branch, Elsie Adepitan-Olaniyi said she is not surprised by the resignation adding that it only came sooner than expected.
The Principal partner of Elsie and Pearse solicitors berated the conferment of GCON on Muhammad describing the honour as inappropriate at a time the honouree has pending allegations.
She however maintained that the allegations if swept under the result in loss of confidence in the judicial system.
“The CJN Tanko Mohammad’s resignation was no shocker to me, it just came sooner than expected. The resignation is obviously related to the unsettled issue in the supreme court with the 14 justices of the court. The allegations which is centered on welfare and handling of court affairs, should not be left unattended to especially when it has been made public knowledge. The level of confidence the common man has in the judicial process will be reduced to zero if the allegations are merely swept under the carpet.
“The conferment of the grand commander of the order of the Niger (GCON) on the now immediate past chief justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammad by the president Muhammadu Buhari, is not time appropriate as he still has pending allegations against him by the justices of the supreme court and same cannot be overlooked or erased by any conferment whatsoever.”
Also commenting on the development, an Abeokuta based human right lawyer, Habeeb White said Muhammad’s resignation should not be an excuse from investigating him.
“Allegations against the CJN must not be swept under the carpet, he must be investigated. The fact that he has resigned does not mean he should be left alone. He must be investigated. We have not had it worse like this before in our judicial system until this man came in.
“He took his media aide to say that they have something against him, if seven people are saying the same thing against you, there is an iota of truth in it. I don’t want to believe he is having health issues, he must be investigated, even if he is dying he must be investigated, we have to know the truth. The judicial system is that last hope of the common man and it has been filled with nepotism, ethnicism and tribalism. Enough is enough. He must have gotten a clue from people to resign but he must be investigated.”
Whyte who said the conferment of national award is a prerogative of the President maintained that Muhammad must answer questions on his use of office.
“This is Nigeria, as a CJN he can be honoured, no problem, the honour is the prerogative of the President. This is a country where ex-convicts are honoured but we are saying with his honour, he must be investigated.
“The Ayo Salami’s case is still very fresh, we knew what happened to him, so this one must not go under the carpet . The honour should not stop him from answering questions bothering on his character and use of office, he must be investigated,” Whyte concluded.
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