Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has tested positive for COVID-19.
His colleague at the Supreme Court, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, said yesterday in Abuja at the unveiling of the national headquarters of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association that the CJN is receiving treatment in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
But the Director of Information, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Dr. Festus Akande, disputed Justice Saulawa’s claim, saying there is no medical report to show that the CJN is positive for COVID-19.
Justice Muhammad was absent from Monday’s new legal year ceremony of the Supreme Court where he was scheduled to preside over the inauguration of 72 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
His absence was noticed at about 10.02 am when the other 19 justices filed into the courtroom, marking the commencement of the programme.
The reason for Justice Muhammad’s absence was not disclosed as the event began immediately with the administering of oaths to the new SANs.
However, the event was presided over by the next most senior justice, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour serves as the Deputy Chairman of the National Judicial Council, ranking next to the CJN as the chairman.
But Akande, who had earlier yesterday reacted to yesterday’s report by THISDAY on anxiety over the CJN’s health, denied that he was sick.
He explained that the CJN’s absence at Monday’s swearing-in of the SANs should not be interpreted to mean he is sick.
“Our attention has been drawn to the story currently in circulation with the above caption, which was published on page 38 of THISDAY Newspaper on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.
“It’s necessary to state that there’s no iota of truth in the claim being peddled by the publication, as there hasn’t been any indication made public or otherwise that has shown any anxiety over the CJN’s health,” Akande said.
While reacting to the COVID-19 issue, Akande said there was no medical report to prove the CJN’s medical condition.
“In furtherance to the press statement earlier issued, I wish to state categorically clear that there is no medical report so far made available by anybody indicating that the CJN has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Those peddling the rumour should go a step further to confirm from their sources and equally obtain the copy of whatever laboratory test result they are relying on,” he stated.
He explained that as at the time of issuing the statement, “no one has so far shown me or any other person in Supreme Court a copy of the test result they are referring to in the report.”