Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday swore in Justice Tanko Muhammad as the 18th Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), barely a week after he was confirmed by the Senate.
Justice Muhammad who took oath of service in Abuja as the substantive CJN, promised to build on the legacies of his predecessors to make the judiciary better.
He had been acting in that capacity since January 29 when his predecessor, Justice Walter Onnoghen, was suspended by the president on the order of the Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, while standing trial for non-declaration of assets.
Onnoghen later voluntarily retired while his trial was ongoing and was subsequently convicted by the CCT.
Following Onnoghen’s retirement, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended Muhammad to Buhari for appointment as the substantive CJN, and acting on the recommendation, Buhari wrote the Senate on July 11, urging it to confirm Muhammad as the CJN in line with Section 231 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Justice Muhammad, after taking his judicial oath, urged members of the public to write him on corrupt practices involving judges provided they can prove such allegations.
He said: “I’m telling you that the judiciary under my watch by God’s grace, would be better and on issues of all these kinds of corruption, I will ask you people or any other person who knows about it to please write to me or let him have contact with me and tell me.”
The CJN who said the judiciary was not a platform for amassing wealth, added that the arm of government is rather noted for acquisition of fame.
He urged any judicial officer who wants to live in opulence to look elsewhere.
He also said the judiciary had been supporting the executive in the fight against corruption by speeding up the trial of corruption cases, pointing out that the body will also ensure that such disposition is passed down to lower courts.
“We are supporting the government in fighting corruption because we interpret the law and we come with better
interpretation even if there is any case, which is pending and I tell you that we have been speeding up any case that has to do with allegation of corruption.
“We speed it up so that if somebody is required to go to jail, he will go to jail and that is the end of it, and we would see that all these transcend down to the lower epoch of the judiciary so that even the area courts, magistrates’ courts will see what we do and they would be bound by what we do,” he added.
Justice Muhammad also said his wish was to see the judiciary becoming one of the best in the world.
According to him, judicial officers in Nigeria are not only well trained but also continue to go through retraining with a view to enhancing their sense of ethical compliance.
He, however, admitted that the image of the judiciary in Nigeria is dented as a result of the activities of middlemen and warned against imbibing such attitude.
“I will want to see Nigerian judiciary, if according to my wish, as the best judiciary in the world. But you see, we are still learning but I’m proud to say that Nigerian judiciary, I’m sure, is one of the best in Africa.
“Now, if you take a look at judicial officers, all of us are fully trained and all of us are almost, at interval, going on courses so that we remind ourselves of the ethics that is binding on us. Therefore, we pray that with the cooperation of the citizens of this country, Nigerian judiciary will be a very big judiciary and we hope it will be successful during our tenure,” he added.