Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Wednesday, urged the National Judicial Council and the Code of Conduct Tribunal to swing into action and probe the corruption allegations levelled against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, by 14 serving justices of the Supreme Court. HURIWA said the CJN should step down as Chairman of the NJC for the purposes of this investigation.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, noted that failure of the NJC and the CCT to investigate the graft allegations levelled against Muhammad, is tantamount to injustice considering the fact that his predecessor, Walter Onnoghen, was removed on a controversial note following some allegations against him which was probed by both the NJC and the CCT.
Recall that the 14 Supreme Court justices recently protested their welfare and asked the CJN whether their funds had been diverted.
In a petition to Muhammad, the justices said, “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.
“Your lordship may also remember that the national assembly has increased the budgetary allocation of the Judiciary. We find it strange that in spite of the upward review of our budgetary allocation, the Court cannot cater for our legitimate entitlements. This is unacceptable!”
Though Muhammad through his media aide had offered defence against the allegations, HURIWA demanded that the NJC and the CCT step in and probe the CJN for such weighty allegations. HURIWA said the intervention of Body Of Benchers to mend the broken fences between the Justices and the CJN is not acceptable but it’s as good as treating serious issues of breach of the law as a family affair. The Rights group said Nigeria have law enforcement agencies that statutorily investigate alleged crimes but seeking tk cover it up in the name of negotiating truce is primitive and crooked.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The NJC, the CCT and the National must swiftly probe the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad. The corruption allegations levelled against him are too weighty to be ignored considering the fact that these are allegations from Supreme Court justices.
“The matter should not be left for the Muhammad to resolve as he can’t be a judge in his own case since he is being accused of corruption. It is a big disappointment if those allegations are validated because of the fact that people who should uphold the law are not to break it with impunity. But of course these are all mere allegations but merit thorough independent investigation.
“HURIWA calls on the NJC, the CCT, the National Assembly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission to probe Muhammad just as they all investigated his predecessor, Walter Onnoghen. This is what justice and equity means. There must be no sacred cows.”