On Wednesday, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria confirmed Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, as the substantive CJN.
Naija Buzz News had last week ago reported that President Muhammadu Buhari requested for Justice Muhammad’s confirmation as the CJN in a letter to the Senate following his recommendation by the National Judicial Council.
The CJN arrived around 10am, and was taken into the Red Chamber an hour later (around 11am) for the confirmation process.
He was grilled for 2 hours, answering questions on corruption and others.
CJN Muhammad while answering question on corruption in the judiciary 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 noted that judges in lower courts were guilty of corruption; in his response to question from Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President.
Justice Muhammad further urged the lawmakers to amend the law and make it even stronger. He added that the poor funding in the judiciary also affects the speedy administration of justice.
“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,” the CJN said told the senators.
He further revealed that the judiciary needs financial autonomy to enable it operate effectively. According to the CJN, the judiciary at state level is sometimes refused even its entitled monthly grants.
He noted that the lack of financial autonomy was keeping the judiciary back.
“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.”
“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,” he said.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Senate Minority Leader, asked the CJN to explain the controversial judgement of the Appeal and Supreme Courts on the Osun Governorship Election.
Abaribe asked Justice Muhammad to explain the conflicts in the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the issue of technicalities.
In his response, CJN 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.”
Well, since “technicality” is well known to law (according to CJN Tanko Muhammad), the case of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), over the outcome of the February 23, 2019 presidential election might be given appropriate verdict even if the use of server for the election was not part of the Electoral Act.
Atiku had vehemently rejected the outcome of the election, saying that he won the poll according to results he obtained from the central server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC had however since denied the existence of any server. INEC also noted that provisions for the use of server was made, but was never used because of some blind spots especially in remote areas and also because the Electoral Act does not currently accommodate it.
Electoral officials who worked for INEC in the election however testified that they transmitted election results to a server as directed by the electoral umpire.
Atiku further noted that he was ready to bring in Microsoft, Oracle and IBM experts to prove his case.
No doubt, the case between Atiku and Buhari is actually quite controversial.
We therefore look forward to one of the most interesting judgements in the history of the country if the existence of the server is established at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) (apparently by “experts in the field” in the words of CJN Muhammad), even though the use of a server is not supported by the electoral law on ground.
Ogbodo ThankGod is currently the Managing Director/CEO/Group Chief Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He was the Chief Editor at NaijaBuzz.News before his new top leadership role. Ogbodo has years of experience in the Nigeria Media Industry and has co-founded some media companies. He is the founder of Ogbodo Solution Nigeria and 1Push.Ng. He loves playing football and is a strong supporter of Lionel Messi who he describes as the greatest footballer of all time.