Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria have arraigned the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, over the poor conditions of service in the judiciary and the welfare of its members.
In a letter from the judges, seen by Peoples Gazette, members of the Nigerian judiciary expressed concern over their budget allocations which have not been increased for the past four years.
“We are serving this country diligently and to the best of our abilities. We resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature, including all kinds of disagreements, between governments and individuals… It would be a tragedy if the Nigerian public knew that we are unable to solve our own problems internally without going public” , says the letter. . “The decision to write to you officially should be regarded by Your Lordship as an effort on our part to uphold the dignity of the judiciary and the respect accorded to us by the governments and people of Nigeria.”
Issues raised by the justices in the letter include the non-replacement of dilapidated vehicles, housing issues, poor health services at the Supreme Court Clinic, and the Supreme Court’s poor electricity supply.
The judges also lamented the increase in electricity rates, the absence of modified allowances to reflect the increase in diesel prices and the lack of internet services in their rooms.
The judges drew Mr Tanko’s attention to an internal memo served by the chief clerk, which informed the judges that electricity would be supplied to the court between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily, due to the shortage of diesel.
“The implication of this memo is that the judges must complete their work and close by 4 p.m. Your Lordship, with all due respect, this is the peak of the Court’s degeneration; it is the height of decadence and clear evidence of the absence of probity and moral rectitude,” the judges wrote. “Your Lordship, this act alone portends an imminent danger to the survival of this Court and of the Judiciary as an institution, which is gradually drifting towards extinction.”
Other problems relate to the non-signing of the modified rules of justice, the abrupt cessation of foreign workshops and the annual training of judges; and no provision of qualified paralegals.
As such, the judges questioned Mr. Tanko’s sense of responsibility, fearing a possible closure of justice because of the concerns raised.
“Your Lordship, this is a wake-up call. Your Lordship must take full responsibility as our leader. You must not concede your responsibility to people who have no responsibility or interest in preserving and defending the dignity of the institution,” the letter read. “Your Lordship occupies a position of leadership. We will not wait for the total collapse of the institution.
The letter was delivered in early June and Supreme Court sources confirmed to the Gazette that a stir had erupted over it. They also said a committee including traditional leaders was trying to mediate in the crisis.
When contacted for comment, Ahuraka Isa, Mr. Tanko’s special media assistant, maintained that the issues raised by the judges had been resolved.
“The notes written by the Supreme Court Justices to the CJN complaining about their poor state of warfare were voiced earlier at their quarterly meeting held in March this year. The CJN was dealing with the complaints before his colleagues decided to put them in writing… They have been resolved now and the Supreme Court is calm,” Mr. Isa replied in a statement.
“CJN is not the cause of the Supreme Court justices’ financial problems, but a deplorable collective working condition. The CJN only closes its doors sometimes between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. In the meantime, most of the judges’ complaints have either been dealt with or received adequate attention, as they were informed during their meeting with Judge Bage. »