…Tanko’s resignation as CJN not enough, EFCC should arrest him –HURIWA
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola of the Supreme Court on Monday took the judicial oath of office as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
President Muhammadu Buhari administered the oath of office to Justice Ariwoola during a swearing-in ceremony held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Ariwoola, 62, takes over from the outgone CJN, justice Tanko Muhammad, is expected to serve in an acting capacity till further confirmation by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
While taking the judicial oath, he swore to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Government of Nigeria, as well as defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Justice Muhammad had resigned as the Chief Justice of Nigeria on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.
This led to the inauguration of Justice Ariwoola – the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court at the time of Justice Muhammad’s resignation.
Until his resignation, according to reports, the immediate past CJN was seriously ill.
News of his resignation broke barely a week after 14 justices of the Supreme Court wrote to him to lament the dilapidated state of affairs in the apex court.
In the leaked letter, the justices alleged that Justice Muhammad failed to address the issues raised despite drawing his attention to them.
They had complained of a lack of residential accommodation and vehicles at the court, alleging that the former CJN was gallivanting with his ‘spouse, children and personal staff’ while not allowing them to travel with an assistant on foreign trips.
But these allegations were denied by an aide to the former CJN.
Tanko’s resignation as CJN not enough, EFCC should arrest him –HURIWA
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Monday, said the resignation of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the Chief Justice of Nigeria was not enough to clear him of corruption allegations levelled against him by the 14 justices of the Supreme Court.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, demanded the immediate arrest, investigation and if culpable then prosecute the retired CJN Tanko by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission.
Recall that the 14 Supreme Court justices recently petitioned Tanko and alleged that he diverted their welfare funds.
“In the past, justices were nominated to attend two to three foreign workshops or training per annum with accompanying persons for reasons of age. Since your Lordship’s assumption of office, Justices only attend two workshops in Dubai and Zanzibar. They were not accorded the privilege of travelling with accompanying persons as was the practice.
“Your Lordship totally ignored this demand and yet travelled with your spouse, children, and personal staff. We demand to know what has become our training funds, have they been diverted, or it’s a plain denial,” the justices had asked.
Though Tanko denied the allegations, HURIWA earlier asked the National Judicial Council and the Code of Conduct Tribunal to probe him over the weighty allegations by the Supreme Court justices.
On Monday, news filtered in that Tanko has resigned as the CJN as confirmed by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Yusuf Isah.
“The latest information is that the CJN has resigned; I spoke with somebody very close to him and he said he has resigned,” Isah said.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), immediately sworn in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Reacting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko applauded the swift action of the President to have sworn in Ariwoola as the acting CJN.
He, however, said, “The resignation of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the Chief Justice of Nigeria is not enough; the EFCC and the ICPC must swing into action, investigate then if a cause if Acton is ascertained, then arrest and prosecute him over the corruption allegations levelled against him by the 14 justices of the Supreme Court if a prima facie evidence exists.
“Jistice Tanko must be prosecuted just as his predecessor, Walter Onnoghen, who was probed and later removed on a controversial note following some allegations against him which was probed by both the NJC and the CCT.
“The investigation and probable prosecution of Tanko if indicted, will set a precedent that Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade is not a joke unless it is a joke. Tanko’s prosecution if found culpable of those sets of allegations will also serve as deterrent for any proven corrupt justices that the judiciary won’t be a haven for scoundrels.”