The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Mohammad, says the country’s Supreme Court has, to a larger extent, been living up to its constitutional responsibility.
Muhammad said this in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Ahuraka Isah, with the title ‘Re: State Of Affairs In The Supreme Court And Demand By Justices Of The Supreme Court.’
The CJN, in the statement, confirmed the receipt of the letter written and addressed to him by his brother Justices of the Supreme Court Bench.
He said that Judges in all climes are to be seen and not heard, explaining why he refrained from joining issues over a letter said to be addressed personally to him and which has been spreading across the length and breadth of the society.
“This is akin to dancing naked in the market square by us and with the ripple effects of the said letter.
“The Supreme Court definitely does not exist outside its environment, it is also affected by the economic and socio-political climate prevailing in the country,” he said.
The apex court judges had in a letter raised alarm over their welfare conditions.
On the allegation of financial misappropriation of funds the CJN said: “before eight new Justices were appointed in 2020 into the Apex Court bench, there was no additional budget to provide for new chambers with equipped library, legal assistance, residential accommodations, and logistics for them.
“The apex court has to make do with the resources at its disposal to meet their needs over time as all the Justices of the court have at least a legal assistance, except some who may opt for more.
“When a budget is made, it contains two sides, that’s the recurrent and the capital, yet the two are broken down into items. The Federal Government releases the budget based on the budget components. And it is an offence to spend the money meant for one item on another.
“Take for instance, the Supreme Court budgeted this year to re-roof and rehabilitate its complex built over 30 years ago, work on the extension of the complex, the esthetic lawns and cleanliness of the perimeters, provide security and water supply adequately for my brother Justices in their offices and residences.
“During the period of the Coronavirus pandemic, profound care was maintained to avoid casualties among them as well as the staff generally. It would have amounted to an act of irresponsibility to divert money meant for the above to other uses”.
He said the accusation so far, in summary, is that more or all ought to have been done and not that nothing has been done; which is rather utopian in the contemporary condition of our country.
He noted that two supreme court Justices died within the period under consideration and four retired, the two departed cost the court some funds in the forms of gratuities and allowances.
“Two weeks ago, eight supreme court justices were nominated for a workshop in London as the court cannot take all of them there at once otherwise the job would suffer.
“They would be going in batches, accommodations are being gradually provided for the few that are yet to get.
“There is none of the apex court justices without an SUV and back up cars. If any of them were purchased and refurbished, the external and internal auditors are here in the court to take those that bought them up over it.
“The high cost of electricity tariff and diesel are national problems, the Chief Registrar might have budgeted for N300 per litre but diesel is now selling for over N700 per litre, therefore, he has to find a way around it without even bringing it to the attention of the CJN as there is no way the generator would be put off if the court is sitting.
“The internet services have been restored to Justices’ residences and chambers, just as some allowances have been paid to them”.
He said he held a meeting with his brother Justices last Thursday and another one is due to hold this week.
He, therefore, assured the public that there is no hostility or adverse feelings amongst the Justices of the Supreme Court, as everyone is going about his or her normal duties