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How unresolved feud between CJN, justices led to public spat



Details behind the public spat between the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and justices of the Supreme Court point to a long brewing feud, which the highest judicial officers were unable to resolve, Daily Trust can report.

The Supreme Court justices had in a recent letter to the CJN, leaked to the public, accused the head of the country’s Judiciary of “Absence of probity and moral rectitude” in the management of the court.  

The justices accused the CJN of neglecting their welfare, not carrying them along in managing the affairs of the court, the deteriorating condition of services generally, and the state of the litigations department.

But in his response on Tuesday, through a statement signed by his spokesman, Isah Ahuraka, Justice Muhammad denied the allegations and condemned taking the issues to the public.

Your tenure height of decadence   – Justices  

In their widely circulated letter, the 14 aggrieved justices listed their names as Olukayode Ariwoola, Musa Dattijo Mohammed, Kudirat Motonmori O. Kekere-Ekun, John Inyang Okoro, Chima Centus Nweze, Amina Adamu Augie, Uwani Musa Abba-Aji, Mohammed Lawal Garba, Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Abdu Aboki, Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Tijjani Abubakar, and Emmanuel Akomaye Agim.  

In the letter titled “The State of Affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria by Justices of the Court”, the justices asked the CJN to act before it’s too late on their challenges of justices’ accommodation, vehicles, electricity tariff, supply of diesel, internet services to our residences and chambers, and epileptic electricity supply to the court.

“Your Lordship with all due respect, this is the peak of the degeneration of the court; it is the height of decadence, and clear evidence of the absence of probity and moral rectitude,” they wrote.

“Your Lordship, this act alone portends imminent danger to the survival of this court and the judiciary as an institution, which is gradually drifting to extinction.”

You’re dancing naked in the market – CJN Muhammad  

Replying the CJN said, “Judges in all climes are to be seen and not heard, and that informed why the CJN refrained from joining issues until a letter, said to be personal, is spreading across the length and breadth of the society. This was akin to dancing naked at the market square by us with the ripple effect of the said letter”.

Justice Muhammad, who will bow out on December 31, 2023, after clocking the mandatory age of 70 years, said despite the financial difficulty in the court, his administration has made efforts to recruit legal assistants for the justices and other logistical support which they are entitled.  

“Two weeks ago, eight Supreme Court Justices were nominated for a workshop in London as the court cannot take all of them there at once otherwise the job would suffer. They would be going in batches.  

“Accommodations are being gradually provided for the few that are yet to get. There is none of the apex court justices without SUV and backup cars. If any of them were purchased but refurbished, the external and internal auditors are here in the court to take those that bought them up over it.  

“The high cost of electricity tariff and diesel is a national problem. The chief registrar might have budgeted for N300 per litre but diesel is now selling for over N700 per litre and therefore has to find a way around it without even bringing it to the attention of the CJN. But there is no way the generator would be put off if the court is sitting.”  

Lack of accessibility, denial of logistics responsible – Sources

Sources on Tuesday disclosed that there has always been concern that a crisis, which had been brewing for a long time between the CJN and his colleagues, could boil over into the open.

A senior staff of the Supreme Court, who pleaded anonymity, said there has been the niggling trouble over the modus operandi of Justice Muhammad since he assumed office as acting CJN on February 25, 2019, following the removal of Walter Onnoghen. But matters escalated in 2020 when he allegedly defied calls for him to summon the regular meetings of the justices and began to make himself inaccessible to his colleagues. 

As indicated in the complaint letter of the justices, the CJN refused to formally introduce the six new justices of the court-appointed on November 6, 2020, as is traditionally done until he was pressured into holding the meeting in March, this year.

The source also narrated how the justices were peeved with the handling of the finances of the court with most of their logistical needs either cut or stopped despite the increase in the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary from N100 billion in 2017 to N120 billion in 2021.

“The fact that the CJN, who was not supposed to be the accounting officer was involved in procurement functions that should be the duties of the chief registrar was unimaginable for most justices,” the source said.

The source said this forced many of the justices to start murmuring and complaining to their senior retired colleagues, including a serving emir in one of the North Central states, who in turn visited the court sometimes to try and settle the rift to no avail.

Concerned by the breakdown in communications in the apex court over the plight of the justices, the immediate past CJN Onnoghen on June 16 warned that the Supreme Court could become a glorified high court if not adequately funded.

Onnoghen, who spoke in Abuja, at the public presentation of a law book on Construction Law, lamented that some justices of the apex court still live in rented accommodations in unsuitable areas in the FCT, adding that their salaries and allowances have not been reviewed since 2008.  

Another insider who spoke  on the condition of anonymity said the last straw that broke the camel’s back, which forced the justices to go public, was the participation and victory of the CJN’s two sons in elective offices, as senatorial and House of Representatives candidates of the PDP and APC respectively in Bauchi State, which the justices saw as capable of compromising the integrity of the court.  

The spokesman of the CJN could not respond to request for comment on the claims by the sources as his phone was switched off.  

Also, the Director of Information of the Supreme Court, Dr Festus Akande, said he has not been authorised to comment on claims about happenings in the court.  

It’s unhealthy for public confidence in Judiciary – Analysts

Meanwhile, analysts have described the situation as shameful and capable of eroding public confidence.  

Murtala Abdulrasheed (SAN) described the development as shameful and unheard of in the judiciary.  

The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani said the notion of corruption in the Judiciary is one of the reasons members of the public do not have confidence in the courts anymore.  

“If you don’t have money, psychologically you think that you won’t have justice and fair trial if you got to court,” he said.

“When you hear issues of lack of accountability in the judiciary, it is a clear indication that all is not well.”  

In the same vein, the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice (SCJ), Eze Onyekpere Esq. said the letter of the justices against the CJN is nothing new to observers like him because “The judiciary is not immune to the cancer of corruption in the country”.


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PVC: INEC Extends Working Hours to Capture More Zamfara Residents



The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has extended the daily working hours of its staff to capture more eligible would-be voters at its centres in Gusau ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Saidu Ahmed, INEC’s resident electoral commissioner in Zamfara, disclosed this on Thursday.

“We now close our gates at 2:00 p.m. But we make sure all those present on the premises of the centres get enrolled before we close for the day,” Mr Ahmed stated.

INEC said it had also deployed five additional data-capturing machines to fast-track the exercise in Zamfara.

Mr Ahmed said the development was part of INEC’s effort to ensure that it registered most if not all eligible would-be voters before the end of the August 30 new deadline set by the commission.

He said INEC had also increased logistics to transport its staff to hard-to-reach areas for the residents to take advantage of the work-free week (June 20 to June 24) declared by the Zamfara government.

“We have introduced the use of motorbikes to cover the hard-to-reach areas within the headquarters of the 14 local government areas of the state for that purpose. You know, for now we cannot go beyond the LG’s headquarters due to security concerns in parts of the state,” Mr Ahmed explained.

He added, “But I can assure you, we are doing our best to get as many eligible registrants from such areas enrolled through the assistance of stakeholders who also transport their people to the centres.”

Gusau residents had appealed to INEC to deploy additional staff to enable more people to enrol. They lamented the enrolment process was slow due to the few number of INEC officials at various centres.

Some said they had completed the registration since October 2021 but were asked to pick their PVCs in January this year.

“We went back several times to collect the PVCs; the officials would say they were not ready. But we are determined to ensure we collect them before the general poll in 2023,” Abdul Suleiman, a resident, said.

Another resident, Emmanuel Ikeme, noted that the exercise was easy for him because he registered online but he came to INEC for physical capturing and thumb-printing.

Mr Ikeme, however, complained that the process was slow and urged INEC to deploy more personnel.

INEC’s head of voter education and publicity, Bello Ibrahim, disclosed that five additional data-capturing machines had been deployed to fast-track the exercise in Zamfara.


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Beaten In Germany, Accused Of Forgery, Four Moments Ekweremadu Made Headlines For Bad Reasons



Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President, has headlined several media platforms following his arrest in connection with organ harvesting in the United Kingdom.

Recent developments might be suggesting that the Enugu born politician is not done earning himself what many would almost readily consider a negative press.

below are some highlights some of the controversies he has been involved in over the years

Arrested for Organ Harvesting 

Ekweremadu alongside his wife, Beatrice, were arrested in London.

According to the Metropolitan Police, they were arrested and charged with bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting.

The child, whose identity was not disclosed, is reportedly with the Metropolitan Police, while the Nigerian lawmaker and his wife are currently in custody. They were denied bail when brought before Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court and the case adjourned to July 7.

Beaten in Germany

In 2019, Ekweremadu was physically attacked by a mob while attending a cultural event in Germany.

Ekweremadu, who confirmed the attack in a statement, said the attackers were members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a South-East secessionist group.

A video of the attack was widely circulated on social media. In the video, a mob attacked Ekweremadu as he attempted to enter the venue of the event in Nuremberg, Germany.

In the one-minute video, the mob chanted ‘go back’ while trying to deny Mr Ekweremadu entry.

Accused of Forgery

In 2016 when he was the Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu was tried before an FCT high court for allegedly forging the Senate Standing Rules 2015.

He pleaded not guilty to the two counts of criminal conspiracy and forgery when the charges were read to him before Justice Yusuf Haliru.

Alleged N7.75bn Fraud 

In 2015, an investigation by PREMIUM TIMES revealed how Nigerian federal lawmakers, led by Ekweremadu, allegedly withdrew N7.75 billion of public funds in four years to purportedly review sections of the 1999 Constitution.

In the investigation lasting months, the newspaper found that between 2011 and 2015, the then 53-member House of Representatives Ad-hoc Constitution Review Committee and its 49-member counterpart in the Senate in the 7th National Assembly withdrew N3,250,000,000.00 and N4,500,000,000.00 respectively to purportedly execute the fourth alteration of the Constitution.

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How Buhari’s indecision caused confusion in APC



The road to the special convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to elect its presidential candidate was tinged with hazy permutations, melodrama and political machinations. Pundits and party chieftains point to one direction for the heightened drama: President Muhammadu Buhari.

The development aggravated the tension ahead of the convention as various interest groups used the president’s silence to intensify horse-trading and peddle the name of the president to sell the candidature of their preferred aspirants.

Daily Trust reports that the battle to succeed President Buhari had been fierce and tension-soaked in the ruling party. From the 23 aspirants who were screened by the John Oyegun-led screening committee, the electioneering had been breath-taking as members of the party studied the body language of Buhari who once said he had a preferred successor but failed to name him.

Up to the last minute of the electioneering, the president kept members of the party guessing on his preferred successor, with different contradictory statements; saying at one time that he had a preferred candidate and at another recanting the claim on his successor.

So many chieftains of the party were apprehensive over the president’s indecision amidst speculations that he might want to have his way.

He did that during the race for the chairmanship of the party. He settled for Senator Abdullahi Adamu at the eleventh hour amidst grumbling from party stakeholders, including the governors of the party. But he had his way. Adamu emerged as the consensus candidate and was eventually affirmed at the convention held on March 26.

But while many aspirants were banking on the president’s endorsement to win, pundits said that pasture was a miscalculation as the president was not known to put a spirited fight for anyone.

As far back as January this year, Buhari granted an interview to Channels Television where he hinted that he had a favourite to succeed him but he would not reveal the name.

He said he was “open to the emergence of anyone,” but later, when pressed, added that he had one person in mind but he would not name him so that he would not be eliminated.

Pressed on whether he had any favourite in the APC, he added: “No. I wouldn’t because the person could be eliminated if I mention it. I better keep it secret.”

‘I am not interested in my successor’

Earlier in the interview, Buhari said: “I am not interested in who becomes the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as I am open to the emergence of anyone.

“No. Let him come, whoever it is. The only important thing (is) I made sure that on record, nobody should ask me to come and give any evidence in any court.

“Otherwise, whoever it is, he will be in trouble. Because all the important things are on record. I made sure about that. Important issues are all on record.”

‘Allow me to choose my successor’

Days after the conduct of party primaries for other elective positions in 2023, the president met the party’s governors under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), urging them to allow him to pick his successor.

Buhari at the meeting on Tuesday May 31, stated that state governors were given the opportunity to pick their successor, so they should also allow him to do the same at the federal level.

Buhari said, “In keeping with the established internal policies of the party and as we approach the convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.

“We gave governors re-election tickets or opportunity to pick their successors; allow me pick my successor.”

Adamu unveils Ahmed Lawan as Buhari’s successor

The APC national chairman on Monday flew a kite when he announced Senate President Lawan as the consensus candidate endorsed by President Buhari. The announcement was greeted with a flurry of angry reactions, especially from the camp of 13 other aspirants in the race.

His announcement came after governors of the party from the North backed power shift to the South.

Buhari counters Adamu, says delegates to decide Buhari’s successor

However, the kite failed to fly anywhere as the president, through a statement from Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu countered the national chairman, saying Buhari had not anointed anyone as his preferred candidate.

Shehu expressed the president’s determination to ensure that “there shall be no imposition of any candidate on the party.”

He quoted Buhari as speaking during a meeting with the governors at the State House, Abuja, saying the party is important and its members must be respected and made to feel they are important.

The president said he had a clear mind about what he was doing and asked the APC governors to feel the same. “You were elected as I was. Have a clear mind as I have. God gave us the chance; we have no reason to complain. We must be ready to take pain as we take the joy. Allow the delegates to decide. The party must participate, nobody will appoint anybody,” he said.

As of press time, it was not clear if the president would walk his talk by allowing a free and fair contest spearheaded by the 2,203 delegates who have converged on the FCT in the past 48 hours to exercise their franchise even as analysts say Buhari’s indecision has aggravated the tension in the build-up to the primaries.

A public affairs analyst and political scientist, Gbade Ojo said, “All eyes being on Mr President is making him a dictator. In a democracy, Mr President doesn’t have to dictate who should be his successor.”

According to him, if the president’s favourite is not the preference of majority of the party’s members, the person might suffer legitimacy crisis.

Credit: Daily Trust

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