…CJ says no crisis among Supreme Court Justices
The Senate, yesterday afternoon, confirmed the appointment of Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). The apex legislative assembly confirmed Ariwoola as the head of the nation’s judiciary, following the screening of the justice earlier in the day by the Committee of the Whole.
Ariwoola succeeded Justice Tanko Muhammad, who abruptly resigned on June 26, 2022, on health grounds. During the screening session before his confirmation by the Senate, the jurist told the red chamber that justices of the Supreme Court did not write any petition against the immediate- past CJN, Tanko Muhammad, as widely reported in the media. According to him, what really happened was that they came together and put their complaints about lack of deserving trainings, accommodations for some of their colleagues and other embarrassing infractions at the Supreme Court in writing as an internal memo, which was sent to the then CJN Muhammad in person. The new CJN lamented, therefore, that it was highly embarrassing for them when they noticed that the content of the memo was leaked to the public.
It will be recalled that Muhammad suddenly resigned as the CJN after the memo, which was written by other justices of the apex court leaked, leading to a lot of insinuations that he must have resigned because of the allegations in the document. Also, Ariwoola asked the National Assembly to undertake the necessary amendment of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to allow certain cases to terminate at the Appeal Court, rather than going to the apex court.
He explained that the intendment of his request was to lessen the workload on the justices of the Supreme Court, adding that it would also enhance their efficiency. He noted that a lot was wrong with the nation’s judiciary even before his appointment, lamenting that underfunding had been one of the serious challenges facing the sector. He also regretted the situation where the apex court is constitutionally mandated to have 21 justices as full complement but only operates with 13. Speaking earlier on his vision for the judiciary if confirmed as the substantive CJN, he said that he plans to digitalise the judiciary by introducing technological innovations to ease the work of judicial officers, workers and lawyers. Ariwoola was appointed as Acting CJN on June 26, 2022, by President Muhammadu Buhari, following the resignation of the incumbent Chief Justice. Accordingly, President Buhari forwarded Ariwoola’s name to the Senate for consideration and confirmation as the substantive CJN.