CJN Tanko Muhammad Tests Positive For COVID-19, Says Justice Saulawa

FILE PHOTO: 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 (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, has tested positive for COVID-19, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa has said.

Saulawa, a Justice of the Supreme Court, disclosed this at the unveiling of the national headquarters of the Muslim Lawyers’Association of Nigeria (MULAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, the CJN is presently in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he is receiving treatment.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu Is Responding Well To Treatment, Says Abayomi

Moments after Justice Saulawa made the statement, the Supreme Court disagreed with the comments of the justice on the CJN’s health status.

The Director of Press and Information at the apex court, Dr Akande Festus, in a statement, challenged those saying the CJN tested positive for COVID-19 to provide the result of the test he took.

“I wish to state categorically clear that there is no medical report so far made available by anybody indicating that the Hon. CJN has tested positive for coronavirus.

“Those peddling the rumour should go a step further to confirm from their sources and equally obtain the copy of whatever laboratory test result they are relying on,” he said.

Festus added, “As of this moment of issuing this statement, no one has so far shown me or any other person in Supreme Court a copy of the test result they are referring to in the report.”

The CJN was conspicuously absent at the opening of the 2020/2021 Legal Year and swearing-in of 72 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Monday.

In his absence, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour administered oaths to the new SANs as the next most senior Justice of the apex court.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected a few top government officials in Nigeria, including the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who died after he tested positive for the disease.

Also recently, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday last week.

CJN Swears In Eight New Supreme Court Justices

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has sworn in eight new Justices of the Supreme Court.

The swearing-in ceremony held on Friday at the Supreme Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Shortly after the eight justices took turn to take their oath of office and oath of allegiance to the Nigerian Constitution, the CJN gave his remarks.

Justice Muhammad warned the newly appointed justices of the apex court to shun extraneous considerations while discharging their duties.

The justices, who were recently elevated from the Court of Appeal bench, comprise seven men and one woman, as well as five appointees from the North and three from the South.

They include Lawal Garba (North West), Helen Ogunwumiju (South West), Abdu Aboki (North West), and Mohammed Saulawa (North West).

Others are Adamu Jauro (North East), Samuel Oseji (Souty South), Tijani Abubakar (North East), and Emmanuel Agim (South South).

He was also confident that the new justices would remain morally upright as judicial officers with high integrity.

The courtroom was filled to capacity as lawyers, friends and associates of the newly appointed Supreme Court justices thronged the court to witness the swearing-in ceremony.

Notable among those present was a former Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Epiphany Azinge, as well as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, among others.

The recent inauguration of the judicial officers has raised the number of justices of the Supreme Court from 12 to 20.

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:

RE: URGENT NEED FOR SPEEDY TRIAL OF CASES AND DECONGESTION OF CUSTODIAL CENTRES

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

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.

NJC Suspends Court Proceedings Over Coronavirus

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

 

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has suspended all court proceedings across the country as part of the measures to protect the nation’s judicial institutions from coronavirus.

According to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, the move is to take effect from Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Justice Muhammad, who is also NJC Chairman, directed all heads of courts to ensure compliance for an initial period of two weeks.

READ ALSO: Access Bank Closes Branch After Visitor Tested Positive To COVID-19

In a statement posted on NJC website on Monday, the CJN asked courts to only entertain Despite the suspension however, court will only entertain “matters that are urgent, essential or time bound according to the nation’s extant laws.”

Justice Muhammad also directed all federal judicial bodies to continue working while ensuring that members of the public coming for official matters.

Similarly, meetings and conferences are expected not to exceed the recommended number of 50.

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.”

Crowd, Noise Force Supreme Court To Suspend Hearing Of Governorship Appeals

A file photo of the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

 

 

The Supreme Court on Monday in Abuja suspended the hearing of the governorship appeals from six states of the Federation.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, gave the order following the inability of the security operatives to control the crowd and the noise level in the court.

Justice Muhammad had led a seven-man panel of justices hearing the appeals from the governorship elections in Imo, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, Plateau and Benue States.

READ ALSO: Amotekun Is A ‘Pleasant New Year Gift’ – Soyinka

But the court rose some minutes after the hearing commenced due to the crowd and the noise level in the court.

As part of efforts to decongest the court, the CJN directed counsels representing the parties not to appear with more than five lawyers.

He, however, granted the parties in the case to witness the proceedings and until that was done, Justice Muhammad ordered that the hearing be put on hold.

Thereafter, politicians who were not parties in any of the appeals were asked to leave the courtroom as the police deploy a dog to assist in the decongestion process.

After carrying out the directive of the CJN to decongest the courtroom, the court resumed proceedings.

The appeals were brought before the court by various aggrieved candidates in the March 9 polls in the affected states.

The apex court is hearing the appeals filed by the governorship candidates 10 months after the elections held in the affected states.

The governors returned elected by the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the states are Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Simon Lalong (Plateau), and Samuel Ortom (Benue).

Senate Confirms Tanko Muhammad As Chief Justice Of Nigeria

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Justice Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

This was after Muhammad was screened by the Senate, during his confirmation hearing.

The screening lasted for about 90 minutes and he responded to questions on the independence of the judiciary, administration of criminal justice, corruption and the poor funding of the judiciary.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last week Thursday forwarded to the Senate, a letter requesting for confirmation of Muhammad as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Buhari’s letter of request was a sequel to the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to make Justice Tanko the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Mr Muhammad was first appointed in January after the president suspended Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was accused of false declaration of asset.

Tanko Muhammad Appears Before Senate For Screening As CJN

National Assembly Must Reconvene Immediately – APC
National Assembly Complex (file)

 

The Senate has commenced the screening of Tanko Muhammad, as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The lawmakers had gone into an executive session and resolved to begin the screening and confirmation.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: Senate President Lawan Proposes National Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday last week, requested the confirmation of Mr Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

His request was a sequel to the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to make Justice Tanko the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.

Mr Muhammad was first appointed in January after the president suspended Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was accused of false declaration of asset.

Acting CJN, Air Chief Call For Support For Military, Less Criticisms

 

The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad has asked the military to act within the law if it wants to win public trust in the fight against insecurity.

Justice Mohammed made the charge at a retreat organized by the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja.

He stated that with so many public criticisms, the military would not be able to perform optimally.

READ ALSO: Court Adjourns Suit Challenging Buhari, Atiku’s Campaign Funding To May 7

“Considering the nature of the type of war we are now engaged in, the military cannot function effectively without public support.”

“If we juxtapose this with the increasing focus and the criticism of military operations at both local and international levels, the need to act within the laid down military operations, therefore, becomes undeniably imperative.”

However, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, expressed concerns over allegations raised by some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), about the military, disregarding human rights and international laws.

“It is no longer news that several reports by Non-Governmental Organisations have alleged grave violations of international laws and human rights by the Nigerian military.”

“Unfortunately, these mostly unverified allegations have overtime portrayed the military in a bad light and have, as well, impacted negatively on our fight against insurgency. While most of the allegations are untrue, they nevertheless caused mistrust between the military and civil populace, while also affecting relations between Nigeria and some of its allies.”

NJC Meets Thursday To Appoint New Chief Justice of Nigeria

Chief JusticeThe National Judicial Council is scheduled to meet on Thursday to deliberate on the appointment of a new Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.

The current CJN, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, who is the first female and the 13th indigenous CJN, will retire on Nov 20 upon attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Barring any last minute change, Mukhtar is likely to be succeeded by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who is currently the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court.

In fulfillment of constitutional provisions on the appointment of the CJN, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC had met on October 23 and submitted a list of the next three most senior Justices of the Supreme Court to the NJC.

The NJC is expected to meet on Thursday to recommend one of those on the list to President Goodluck Jonathan.

Top on the FJSC’s recommended list is Justice Mohammed, who is currently the Deputy Chairman of the NJC. The CJN is the Chairman of both the NJC and the FJSC.

Others on the list are said to be two other Justices of the Supreme Court in order of seniority, Justices Walter Onnoghen and Tanko Muhammad.

Usually, the most senior among those recommended by the FJSC, and who is next to the outgoing CJN is appointed the new Chief Justice by the President.

The President’s choice often requires approval by the Senate in line with section 231(1) of the Constitution.

A source at the FJSC, who is familiar with the processes of appointing the nation’s CJN, confirmed the development to Channels Television correspondent on Sunday.

“By sending additional two names to accompany the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court is just to fulfil all righteousness. It is almost certain that the NJC at its meeting on Thursday will recommend Justice Mohammed to the President and the President will then appoint him as the next CJN,” the source said.

Paragraph 21(a) and (a) (i) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guides the appointment of the CJN, Justices/judges and heads of various federal courts, says,

“The National Judicial Council shall have power to:

“Recommend to the President from among the list of persons submitted to it by – the Federal Judicial Service Commission, persons for appointment to the offices of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge and judges of the Federal High Court.”