Fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court have written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, lamenting the unfortunate state of affairs in court.

In a letter of protest, the first of its kind in the high court’s 58-year history, the justices recounted the operational challenges that have nearly brought the court’s efficient adjudication of cases to a near standstill.

A copy of the letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the protest became necessary after CJN refused to address the issues despite drawing their attention to them.

The aggrieved judges led by the Supreme Court’s second-longest-serving judge, Olukayode Ariwoola, listed the issues to include: vehicles, electricity tariff, diesel supply, internet services to (judges’) residences and cameras, and supply of electricity for epileptic people. court.

Following complaints that were raised at a March 2022 meeting “after several persistent requests to hold the meeting”, a “welfare committee” was created to aggregate the issues.

But the judges said: “Your Honor (the CJN) received and ignored these demands from March 24, 2022.”

Judges lack accommodation, vehicles

According to the letter, some judges who were sworn in two years ago lack residential accommodation on the court.

“At the judges’ meeting, we intimated to your honor that some judges who were sworn in on November 6, 2020 had not yet been accommodated by the Court.

“His Honor promised to address the issue that day. To date, Your Honor has not taken any steps in this direction.”

Another issue raised by the judges concerns decrepit vehicles that need to be replaced, while “some of the vehicles supplied to the judges are refurbished or substandard”, as Mr. Muhammad refused to “address this issue”.

On the subject of training abroad, the CJN was accused of flirting with his “spouse, children and personal staff”, while depriving the rest of the Supreme Court magistrates of it. On two occasions when justices traveled abroad for training, they said, they were not allowed to go with an assistant as they used to be in previous administrations.

“WE DEMAND to know what has become of our training funds, have they been diverted or is it a simple denial?” the magistrates asked.

“Your Honor’s assumption of office The judges only attended two workshops in Dubai and Zanzibar. They were not granted the privilege of traveling with companions as was the practice,” the letter said.

The jurists pointed out that, despite the improvement of the budget allocation to the judiciary, “it seems strange to us that, despite the upward revision of our budget allocation, the court cannot attend to our legitimate rights. This is unacceptable!”

Inadequate medical care, shortage of paralegals

The judges denounced the lack of legal research assistants, despite the magnitude of the cases that are adjudicated.

“We are faced with a number of complex legal matters of national importance with the addition of time-bound matters that come between our regular Court sessions. We require qualified legal assistants to be able to offer the best of ourselves. This lawsuit has not received any attention from the Honorable President of the Supreme Court.”

They noted that “medical care has deteriorated” with the Supreme Court staff clinic becoming a “mere consultation clinic”, where “there are no medications available to treat minor ailments. There is a general lack of concern for judges requiring immediate or emergency medical intervention.”

On the issue of court rules, the magistrates said that the CJN has withheld its assent to the “Court Rules for nearly three years,” which has slowed the productivity of judges to dispense with cases, adding “We strongly believe that the new rules will help speed up the process.” management.”

On the erratic supply of electricity, the magistrates said that they have been confined to work between “8 am and 4 pm every day, due to lack of diesel”, after the Chief Secretary of the Supreme Court, Hajo Bello, told them notified about the development.

Lamenting the implications of Ms. Bello’s memorandum to cut power at 4:00 pm, even when judges have sentences and rulings to write outside of office hours, they said: “The implication of this memorandum (on cutting of energy) is that the judges must finish their work and close before 4 pm. Your Honor, with all due respect, this is the peak of the Court’s degeneration; it is the height of decadence and clear evidence of the absence of probity and moral rectitude.”

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Making a comparison between the other two arms of government, the Executive and the Legislative, the justices said: “The Supreme Court is the seat of the Judiciary as an arm of the government.”

Urging the CJN to take full responsibility for preserving the dignity of the high court, the justices said: “We must not abandon our responsibility to call Your Honor to order in the face of these sad events that threaten our survival as an institution. We have done our best to send a wake-up call to Your Honor. A stitch in time saves nine.”

They added that if Mr. Muhammad does not address their concerns, “we will be forced to (take) additional measures immediately. May this day never come.”

Among those who signed the letter are: Olukayode Ariwoola, Musa Dattijo Mohammed, Kudirat Motonmori O. Kekere-Ekun, and John Inyang Okoro.

The rest are Chima Centus Nweze, Amina Adamu Augie, Uwani Musa Abba-Aji, Mohammed Lawal, Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Abdu Aboki, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Tijjani Abubakar and Emmanuel Agim.

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