The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has said that 14 Justices of the Supreme Court never petitioned the immediate past CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
Justice Ariwoola made this clarification while responding to questions by Senators during his screening by the Senate in Abuja.
He said what was misconstrued as a petition was an “internal memo” meant to bring to the attention of the ex-CJN of the concerns raised severally by Justices which Muhammad which he promised to address but did not.
Ariwoola said: “We did not write any petition. It was an internal memo that was leaked. We had at a meeting raised issues about the working conditions of judges, our colleagues who have no accomodations, no vehicles, our entitlements to attend workshops which were claimed not to be provided for whereas they were in the budget. Our brother, former CJN probably forgot to take care of it. So we sat together to put something on paper and we all signed the memo and we sent it to our brother.”
“How the memo came out in the newspapers is still a miracle. We were embarrassed ourselves. We wanted the CJN to let us meet with the management of the court to let them know that we had no problem with our number one(Tanko).”
“There was no petition against the former CJN and we remain as brothers. Justices were not protesting. We could not have carried placards”, he said.
Ariwoola however decried years of poor funding which he said was suffocating the judiciary in Nigeria.
He therefore appealed to the National Assembly to always ensure that the budgets of the Judiciary are promptly passed; stressing that justices should never be allowed to go begging.
“Justices must participate in the preparation and defense of our budget. The judiciary must be properly funded and we should not go cap in hand. we should not beg for our entitlement”.
The new CJN who promised to reform the judicial system with the introduction of innovative technology to ease court processes called on the lawmakers to assist him in making it happen by amending the Constitution to ensure that some cases terminate at the Court of Appeal).
President Muhammadu Buhari had on June 27th, 2022 appointed Justice Ariwoola as Acting CJN and in accordance with provisions of the Constitution forwarded his name to the Senate for approval and confirmation.
For about one hour, the lawmakers grilled the Presidential nominee and having answered to all the questions thrown at him by the lawmakers, the Senate extended one of its highest privileges to the Chief Justice when it asked him to take a bow and go.