CJN Swears In Dongban-Mensem As Court Of Appeal President

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, speaks during the inauguration of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on June 19, 2020.



The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has sworn in Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal.

The swearing-in ceremony held on Friday at the conference room of the CJN’s office in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He asked the newly sworn-in appellate court president to discharge her duties to the court without fear or favour.

Justice Muhammad also advised her to work closely with presiding justices of the Court of Appeal to achieve great strides in the nation’s judicial system.

He said, “Certainly, you will see that there is no court in this country that has the number of justices that the Court of Appeal has.

“Therefore, that shows you that the Court of Appeal is home of work, the Court of Appeal is home of cooperation; you have to cooperate together, all of you from top to bottom so that the work will continue to progress.”

After taking the oath of office, Justice Dongban-Mensem promised the CJN that she would contribute her quota to the growth of the nation’s judiciary.

On their part, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, and Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, outlined their expectations from the Court of Appeal going forward.

The event had in attendance families, friends, colleagues of Justice Dongban-Mensem, as well as top government officials who stormed the venue to celebrate with her.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the appointment of Justice Dongban-Mensem to act as the President of the Court of Appeal from March 6, for an initial period of three months.

This followed the retirement of Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, as well as the recommendation of Justice Muhammad in line with the provisions of Section 238(4) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Following the completion of the initial period, the President announced on June 8 that he had forwarded the name of Justice Dongban-Mensem to the Senate for confirmation, in line with the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

After receiving the President’s request, the lawmakers in the Senate confirmed Justice Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal, paving the way for her inauguration.

CJN Orders Speedy Trial Of Cases, Decongestion Of Custodial Centres

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.



The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has ordered the heads of various courts to immediately speed up the trial of cases and decongestion of custodial centres in the country.

In a statement personally signed by him on Friday, he said there was a need to take the urgent measures in view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Justice Muhammad, who is also the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, explained that the United Nations had called for the reduction of the population of prison inmates to aid physical distancing in such facilities.

According to him, records show that Nigeria has about 74,127 inmates at various custodial centres and 52,226 are Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs).

The CJN was worried that most of the centres were housing inmates beyond their capacities and the congested facilities were harmful to the health of the inmates.

He, therefore, directed the heads of courts to urgently visit all custodial and correctional centres within their jurisdictions to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.

Justice Muhammad recommended the conditional and unconditional release, as well as payment of fines of awaiting trial persons depending on the categories they fall within.

He also asked the justices to forward a report of their visits to him for compilation and onward transmission to the relevant authorities.

Read the full statement by the CJN below:


Ref. No. NJC/CIR/HOC/II/662  15th May 2020

To: All Chief Judges,

States Judiciaries and FCT.


I wish to draw Your Lordships attention to the need to take urgent measures towards the speedy trial of cases and decongestion of custodial centres in the country in view of COVID-19 Pandemic.

Recently, the United Nations called on countries of the World to consciously reduce the population of prison inmates since physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are practically impossible.

From available records, the inmates’ population at various custodial centres across the country presently stands at about 74,127 out of which 52,226 are Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs).

Most of these custodial centres are presently housing inmates beyond their capacities and the overcrowded facilities pose a potent threat to the health of the inmates and the public in general in view of the present circumstances, hence the need for urgent steps to bring the situation under control.

Considering the above, it has become imperative for Your Lordships to embark on an immediate visit to all custodial/correctional centres within your respective States to identify and release deserving inmates, where that has not been done already.

During the requested visit, the Chief Judges are enjoined to consider the conditional or unconditional release of Awaiting Trial Persons who have spent 6 years or more in custody.

ATPs who have no confirmed criminal cases against them, aged inmates and terminally ill may be discharged.

It is expected that particular attention should be on the aged, those with health issues, low-risk offenders, those with no sufficient legal basis to remain in custody, inmates convicted for minor offences with or without the option of fines and inmates who have less than 3 years term left to serve having served a substantial term of their service for offences that attract 5 years and above.

Payment of fines may be made in favour of inmates convicted of lesser offences with the option of fine, who are in custody because of their inability to pay such fines.

The list of deserving inmates as provided by the Correctional Service Formations across the Country with above criteria is hereby attached for your guidance.

A report on the proposed visits is required to be forwarded to me for compilation and onward transmission to Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion Secretariat, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.

Finally, there is the need to ensure that Your Lordships direct lower courts to comply with requirements of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/law in issuing remand warrants in criminal cases especially in cases which are not within their jurisdiction.

This will regulate the volume of entry of Awaiting Trial Inmates into custodial centres.

Hon. Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR

Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman

National Judicial Council

Allow Judges Hear Applications Via Skype, Falana Writes CJN


A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice I.T. Muhammad requesting that courts re-open and judges hear applications via Skype or Zoom.

In his letter titled, “Request To Re-Open Courts To Attend To Bail Applications And Fundamental Rights Applications,” the human rights activist said it is important that the National Judicial Council (NJC) review its decision to suspend court sitting till further notice.

According to Falana, this review is necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory.

He added that decision to re-open courts is also necessary to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention.

READ ALSO: FG Grants Amnesty To Ambrose Alli, Enahoro, Effiong, Pardons 2,600 Inmates

Read The Full Letter Below


Pursuant to Your Lordship’s letter dated March 23, 2020, all Heads of courts in the country were directed to suspend court sittings for two weeks in tandem with the COVID-19 Regulations issued by President Muhammadu Buhari. In another letter dated April 6, 2020, Your Lordship extended the suspension of court sittings “till further notice given the lockdown measures put in place by the federal government and some state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19. ”

No doubt, the decision of the National Judicial Council to suspend the sittings of all courts was predicated on the need to protect our Judicial Officers and judicial staff from the coronavirus pandemic. However, in view of the decision of the federal government to relax the lockdown by allowing markets, shops and stalls selling food and groceries to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily the National Judicial Council ought to review the suspension of court sittings to enable them to attend to urgent matters.

The review has become necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications to secure the enforcement of the fundamental right to personal liberty of other detainees are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory. In addition, the return dates in respect of several ex parte orders made by Magistrates for the remand of a number of criminal suspects which have since expired are due to be quashed or renewed to extend the time for further investigation.

In order to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention we are confident that our humble request will be granted. More so that the heads of the various courts are vested with the power to designate Judges and Magistrates to attend to urgent matters in accordance with the laws establishing such courts.

However, in order to observe the social distancing directive we suggest that arrangements be made for Judges to hear urgent applications via Skype or Zoom.

While awaiting Your Lordship’s response to our request please accept the assurances of our highest professional regards.

Yours Sincerely,

Femi Falana SAN, FCI Arb.

CJN Extends Suspension Of Court Sittings Over Coronavirus

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.


The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has extended the suspension of court sittings till further notice.

This was contained in a statement by the CJN on Monday evening.

According to the CJN, the extension is necessary because of the measures in place to fight COVID-19.

“In view of the fact that the initial two weeks suspension of courts sittings will expire on 7th April 2020, I hereby extend the suspension of court sittings till further notice, given the lockdown measure put in place by Federal and some state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19,” the CJN’s statement read in part.

Despite the extension, the CJN said courts would sit for urgent and time-bound matters.

“Your lordships are, however, to note that courts are expected to sit particularly to dispense matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound in line with our extant laws,” the CJN, who is also the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, added.

The extension comes two weeks after Justice Muhammad ordered all heads of courts in the country to suspend court sittings.

The initial suspension took effect on March 24.

CJN’s Directive On Suspension Of Court Proceedings Follows Quarantine Act, Says Malami

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.


The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says the directive of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Tanko Mohammed for courts to suspend proceedings follows the Quarantine Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Malami in a statement issued on Wednesday by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, however, clarified that courts are expected to attend to matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound even during the lockdown.

The AGF explained that since speedy dispensation of justice is a cardinal principle of the Justice Sector Reform of the present administration, only time-bound cases will be treated with dispatch and accorded the required attention as the nation battles the COVID-19 scourge.

According to the statement, the directive was communicated in a letter addressed to all heads of courts dated 1st April 2020 conveying the COVID 19 Regulation 2020.

It read in part: “Further to the letter Ref. No. NJC/CIR/HOC/11/631 dated 23rd March 2020 by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice I. T. Mohammad, CFR directing suspension of Court sittings for an initial period of two weeks at the first instance, except in matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound according to extant laws.”

After Judgement On Imo Election, PDP Asks CJN To Step Down

Justice Tanko Muhammad



The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on Justice Tanko Muhammad to step down as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

This comes two days after the CJN chaired a seven-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court which presided over the appeal from the Imo State governorship election.

The National Chairman of the PDP, Mr Uche Secondus, asked the CJN to step down while reacting to the judgment of the apex court during a press conference on Thursday in Abuja.

He explained that the opposition party made the demand in order to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the country.

READ ALSOSupreme Court Nullifies Election Of Ihedioha, Declares Hope Uzodinma Imo Governor

Secondus said, “In other to avoid an imminent breakdown of law and order, the PDP demands that Justice Tanko Muhammad immediately steps down as CJN and chairman of the National Judicial Council as Nigerians have lost confidence in him and a Supreme Court under his leadership.”


On Tuesday, the Supreme Court nullified the election of the PDP candidate, Mr Emeka Ihedioha, as the governor of Imo State.

It, thereafter, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha and give same to Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Party (APC).

The judgement has sparked mixed reactions from the ruling and opposition parties, as the APC celebrated the victory while the PDP rejected the decision of the apex court.

In his reaction, the PDP national chairman alleged that the judgement was a product of manipulation, and clear coup d’etat against the will of the people of Imo State.

He demanded that the decision of the Supreme Court on the election be reviewed and reversed in the interest of justice.

Secundus also asked the CJN and members of the panel to recuse themselves from the pending petitions on Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa, Kano, and Plateau States.

“Justice Tanko must not head the panel to determine the remaining election petitions before the Supreme Court,” he said.

The PDP national chairman added, “We demand that Justice Tanko Mohammed, the CJN and his colleagues on the Imo governorship panel recuse themselves from the remaining cases involving PDP in the Supreme Court.”

We Are Maintaining Zero-Tolerance For Corruption – CJN


The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad said the Supreme Court of Nigeria is ever ready for any eventuality and is also well prepared to keep the country together as one indivisible entity through effective and efficient justice delivery.

Justice Muhammad stated this while addressing the members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption [PACAC], led by their Chairman, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, who paid a courtesy visit to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The CJN revealed that the Supreme Court, being the highest and final court in the land, is always very critical and conscious of every case that comes before it on appeal and as such, the Justices always put in concerted effort by doing a critical review of all facts and evidence before them to arrive at a decision in order to give justice to all parties in a free, fair and generally acceptable manner without any iota of equivocation.

‘’We are all seasoned judicial officers that were appointed to the Supreme Court based on merit, experience and qualification. We are bound by the oath we have subscribed to and thus discharge our responsibilities without deference to anybody and we will continue to do so.”

“We are never above board as human beings, so we are open to constructive criticisms. It may interest you to know that before we deliver any ruling or judgment, no matter how small it is, even if it is only five sentences, we have to hold conference with all the Justices on the panel and could even expand it in some critical situations to involve all the justices of the court. The sole aim of this practice is to ensure that justice is given in every case before us, no matter how infinitesimal it might be because we are the final court in the land.”

“Our judgments are always all-encompassing and must, at all times, reflect the feelings and views of every Justice on the panel. Dissenting judgments are always encouraged because we cannot all see things from the same perspective.”

Justice Muhammad assured the visitors that the Supreme Court, as usual, would continue to dispense justice in a free and fair manner that every citizen will be happy to say at the end of the day that justice is done, except of course, for those people who will only accept that justice is done when it favours them and not when the right thing is done.

He urged the PACAC members to help impress on the executive the need to be releasing all funds meant for the Judiciary at the appropriate time to avoid halting its operations. He further appealed to them to always offer advice whenever the need arises and not to also hesitate to forward petitions against any erring Judge to the National Judicial Council for immediate action, stressing that his administration is poised to maintain a zero-tolerance for corruption within the Judiciary.

‘’If you have any complaint against any judicial officer, you can approach the National Judicial Council immediately with your petition. I can assure you that it will be looked into quickly and the required action will be taken against such judge. We are maintaining a zero-tolerance for corruption. If you see us going the wrong way, based on your own understanding, you should quickly call our attention because we are amenable to correction, as it is only the almighty God that is infallible.’’

Earlier in his address, the Chairman of Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN informed the host that the committee was in the court on a congratulatory visit to the Chief Justice of Nigeria for the well-deserved appointment as the Chief Judicial Officer of the Federation and wished him well in his new office.

‘’We are here to express our solidarity and also show appreciation with the way the Chief Justice of Nigeria is treating corruption cases in the court. Contrary to what people have been saying, neither I nor my committee is hostile to the Judiciary. We, therefore, urge the Supreme Court of Nigeria, being the apex court of the country, to always use Justice as the basis of judgment and not the law. Whenever there is a clash between justice and law, justice should always prevail. There should never be a situation where law will take the place of justice.’’

He craved the indulgence of the CJN and other Justices of the Supreme Court to always make sure that once there is a situation where there seems to be no remedy or a way out of a nebulous issue, they should apply their well-endowed wisdom to find a way out to save the county from any form of breakdown or chaos.

‘’We want the golden era where developed countries learn from our own Supreme Court to be re-enacted because that is the bastion of our national pride. Fighting corruption is a collective task and we are here to join forces with the Judiciary to take this anti-corruption fight to a logical conclusion for the good of our dear country. We congratulate you on your appointment and wish you a fruitful tenure’’.

Other Justices of the Supreme Court on hand to receive the visitors were Justices Sylvester Ngwuta, Mary Odili and Amiru Sanusi.

CJN To Swear In 38 Senior Advocates Of Nigeria On Monday

Acting CJN, Tanko Muhammad


The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN),  Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, will on Monday, September 23, 2019, swear in 38 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria at the main courtroom of the Supreme Court.

The swearing-in ceremony is one of the several programmes lined up to herald the 2019/2020 legal year of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

As customary, during such programmes, the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria will deliver a state-of-the Judiciary address which is ostensible to highlight the performance of the Supreme Court, and by extension, the Nigerian Judiciary in the outgoing 2018/2019 legal year.

READ ALSO: President Buhari To Swear In Ministers August 21

It will be recalled that out of the 117 legal practitioners that applied for the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2019, 38 were successful at the end of the rigorous exercise. Out of this number, three are academics while 35 are advocates.

The Supreme Court commenced its annual vacation after a remarkably successful 2018/2019 legal year on Monday 29 July 2019.

All the programmes billed to mark the commencement of the new legal year are to start at 10:am.


Ubani Asks CJN To ‘Justify Honour Bestowed On Him’

Former 2nd Vice President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Monday Ubani.



A former Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monday Ubani, has asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, to justify the honour bestowed on him.

Ubani, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Lunchtime Politics on Wednesday, noted that the CJN was the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, following Justice Walter Onnoghen’s exit.

He said, “He (CJN) is imminently qualified to be the CJN. If you look at his curriculum vitae, he has been the most senior of them all, in the issue of character and experience that is key. And I think he has all that in clear abundance.

“So he has to justify this particular honour that has been given to him before the Senate today because the law requires that particular input from the Senate, he has to be the one to confirm.”

“The President has sent his name recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC). This is clearly in compliance with Section 231 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). So what is going on now is a process and that process has to be completed,” the lawyer added.

READ ALSO: Justice Tanko Muhammad Seeks Executive, Legislature Partnership To Restructure Judiciary

Earlier during his screening before the Senate, Justice Muhammad said the judiciary was nothing without the other arms of government.

Ubani, in his reaction, alined himself with the position of the CJN, saying, “He is right. Judicial officials don’t actually speak for themselves.”

According to him, the NBA has a responsibility of speaking for the independence of the executive, legislative and judiciary.

While calling for an effective judiciary, the lawyer noted that a nation would be peaceful and efficient if its judicial arm was functional.

Buhari Writes CJN Over Appointment Of Supreme Court Justices


President Muhammadu Buhari has written the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Tanko Muhammad, over the appointment of five additional Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

According to him, the President wrote: Pursuant to the provisions of Section 230(2) A&B of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to request that you initiate in earnest the process of appointing additional five Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to make the full complement of 21 Justices as provided by the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution.

Read Also: President Buhari Accepts Onnoghens Voluntary Retirement

This is in line with the Governments Agenda of repositioning the Judiciary in general and Supreme Court in particular for greater efficiency, with a view to reducing the backlogs of appeals pending at the Supreme Court.

“Please accept, your Lordship, the assurances of my highest regards.”

Meanwhile, Mr Garba also noted that President Buhari has accepted the voluntary retirement from service of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria which took effect from May 28.

He said the President thanked Justice Onnoghen for his service to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and wished him the best of retirement life.

Onnoghen Rejects CCT’s Judgement, Files Notice Of Appeal

Onnoghen Rejects CCT's Judgement, Files Notice Of Appeal


Justice Walter Onnoghen has rejected the judgement of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) which convicted him of six counts of false declaration of assets preferred against him by the Federal Government.

Shortly after the judgement delivered on Thursday, the judge filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge the ruling of the Tribunal.

In the notice, a copy of which was sent to Channels Television, the “Federal Government of Nigeria” was listed as the only respondent.

READ ALSOOnnoghen Convicted, Banned From Holding Public Office For 10 Years

Part of it read, “Take notice that the appellant herein, Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel being dissatisfied with the rulings/judgement of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Coram Danladi Umar (Chairman), William Atedze (Member I) and Julie A Anakor (Member II) delivered on the 18th of April, 2019, wherein it ruled on the application challenging its jurisdiction and to recuse itself from the proceedings as well the judgement on the substantive matter against the appellant, do hereby appeal upon the grounds set out in paragraph 3 hereof and will at the hearing of the appeal, seek the reliefs and orders set out in paragraph 4.”

In one of the 16 grounds, Justice Onnoghen said the CCT erred in law when it dismissed his application challenging its jurisdiction and thus, occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice.

He added that the Tribunal erred in law when it dismissed his application seeking the chairman to recuse himself from further proceedings on the ground of “bias”.

Justice Onnoghen, however, sought an order of the appeal court allowing his appeal and that the CCT lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case.

He also asked the court to set aside his conviction as well as discharge and acquit him, among other prayers.

The Tribunal had convicted Justice Onnoghen and removed him from office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

It also banned him from holding public office for the next 10 years and ordered the judge to forfeit all five accounts said not to have been declared by him between 2009 and 2015.

The Tribunal held that the government proved beyond reasonable doubt that Justice Onnoghen breached the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

Read the full document below:

Again, Supreme Court Adjourns Appeal On Rivers APC Primaries



For the second time, the Supreme Court on Thursday shifted hearing in the four appeals on the rivers state APC primary election for the nomination of candidates for the 2019 general election to Monday, April 8th and Thursday, April 11th for a hearing.

The Apex Court adjourned hearing in the matters for various reasons but mainly for the absence of counsel to INEC who was said to have missed his flight from Porthacourt.

The Appeals are those of Senator Magnus Abe against INEC and others, Mr. Tonye Cole against Senator Magnus Abe, the all progressive congress against the Peoples Democratic Party and the last one by the ap. Seeking consolidation of all the pending appeals.

Senator Magnus Abe in his appeal prayed the Apex Court to make a pronouncement on the authenticity of the direct and indirect primaries of the APC in Rivers State for the nomination of candidates.

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The appellant specifically wants the court to determine which of the two appeals is known to law and should be recognized by INEC.

However, when the matter came up counsel to Senator Abe, Mr. Henry Bello informed the Apex Court of his motion seeking to amend his appeal.

The matter was stalled as a result of the absence of the INEC counsel who is the first respondent.

Although Bello sought an order to stand down the matter to enable the counsel who was said to be airborne arrive, the Acting CJN who presided over the panel ruled that the Apex court does not stand down matters for anybody or group.

This prompted the Acting CJN to adjourn the matter to Monday, April 8.

In the two other appeals by Mr. Tonye Cole, a factional governorship candidate of the APC and the party, justice mohamlad shifted hearing in the matters to april 11 to enable parties file and exchange necessary processes.

The Acting CJN who led the seven-man panel of the Apex court also abridged time for the parties to file and exchange papers because the matters are time bound, being pre-election matters.

However in a fourth appeal by the apc seeking a consolidation of all existing apoeals relating to the primary elections, the court adjourned the matter indefinitely for the party to regularise their processes.