Paschal Emeka, Abuja

Centre for Democracy and Development, a social justice and rights group has raised the alarm over recent developments in the Supreme Court, adding that all is not well at the highest court in the land.

The rights group recalled that two former Chief Justices of Nigeria have been enmeshed in allegations of corruption.

A statement by the Forum of Fellows of the Centre for Democracy and Development on Tuesday stated that although the immediate past CJN has not been found guilty, the speculations surrounding the resignation of Muhammad Tanko suggested that he did not resign of his own volition.

The statement signed by Professors Adele Jinadu, Jibrin Ibrahim, and Okey Ibeanu, partly reads: “There have been allegations, rumours and innuendos in connection with the former CJN, including rumours of bribery and undue interference of his family in the work of the Supreme Court. Although there is no evidence to back this, the speculations suggest that he did not resign of his own volition.

“We can surmise from these that all is not well with the Supreme Court. It would be recalled that CJN Tanko Muhammad’s predecessor, Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, was suspended on January 25, 2019, following a questionable prosecution by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, at a time also when the residences of several judges, including Justices of the Supreme Court, were raided by security operatives. ”

They also accused the executive arm of government of meddling in the activities of the judiciary.

“There is strong evidence of the Executive getting involved in activities that interfere with the independence of the judiciary. In other words, there is a challenge to the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

“The not-so-hidden hands of the Presidency have also been often seen in the appointment and removal of judicial officers. Indeed, the same can be said of the relationship between State Governors and the judiciary at the state level, “the statement added.

They called for the improvement of the conditions of service of judicial officers, especially Judges and Magistrates at all levels, adding that their tenures properly guaranteed to insulate them from political and societal pressures and corrupting influences.

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