Fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court have written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, lamenting the parlous state of affairs in the court.
In a first-of-its-kind protest letter in the 58-year history of the apex court, the justices chronicled the operational challenges that have almost crippled the efficient adjudication of cases at the court.
The letter revealed that the protest became necessary following the refusal of the CJN to address the issues despite drawing his attention to them.
The aggrieved justices led by the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court, Olukayode Ariwoola, listed the issues to include — vehicles, electricity tariff, supply of diesel, Internet services to (Justices’) residences and chambers, and epileptic electricity supply to the court.
Following the complaints that were raised at a March 2022 meeting “after several persistent requests to hold the meeting,” a “welfare committee” was set up to aggregate the issues.
But the justices said, “Your Lordship (the CJN) received and ignored these demands since 24th March 2022.”
Justices lack accommodation, vehicles
According to the letter, some justices who were sworn in two years ago, lack residential accommodation at the court.
“At the Justices meeting, we intimated your Lordship that some Justices sworn on the 6th day of November 2020 were yet to be accommodated by the Court.
“Your Lordship promised to take up the issue that day. To date, Your Lordship has not taken any step in this direction.”
Another issue the justices raised concerns decrepit vehicles with several due for replacement, while “some of the vehicles supplied to the justices are either refurbished or substandard,” as Mr Muhammad refused “to address this problem.”
On the issue of overseas training, the CJN was accused of gallivanting with his “spouse, children and personal staff,” while depriving the rest of the judges of the Supreme Court of such. On two occasions when the judges travelled overseas for the training, they said, they were not allowed to go with an assistant as it used to be under previous administrations.
“We DEMAND to know what has become of our training funds, have they been diverted, or is it a plain denial?” the justices queried.
“Your Lordship’s assumption of office Justices only attended two workshops in Dubai and Zanzibar. They were not accorded the privilege of travelling with accompanying persons as was the practice,” the letter said.
The jurists noted that despite improved budgetary allocation to the judiciary, “we find it strange that despite the upward review of our budgetary allocation, the court cannot cater for our legitimate entitlements. This is unacceptable!”