CJN, Tanko Muhammad, resigns on health grounds

by Adeleke Adesiri

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, has resigned on health grounds.

The next most senior  judge of the Supreme Court, Olukayode Ariwoola, who hails from Oyo State, is expected to be sworn in in acting capacity, sources at the Supreme Court who confirmed Mr Muhammad’s resignation, say.

The resignation by Mr Muhammad, 68, comes about 18 months ahead of his official retirement in December 2024, when he will clock 70.

Muhammad’s abrupt exit comes at a time when his colleagues on the Supreme Court bench accused him of hampering the operations of the Supreme Court by failing to fund judges’ welfare as well as fueling of generators among others.

A leaked memo by 14 Justices of the Supreme Court protesting Mr Muhammad’s handling of the operations of the court surfaced online last week.

Read Also: Buhari to swear in Justice Ariwoola as CJN today

Such letter leaking to the public is unprcedented in the history of Nigerian Supreme Court.

Mr Muhammad is leaving behind the crises enumerated in the letter by the Justices of the Supreme Court.

He is the second CJN in a row to abruptly exit office.

His predecessor, Walter Onnoghen, was controversially suspended by President Muhammad Buhari, in January 2019, and never returned to office until he was convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over charges of breach of codes of conduct for public officers.

The President would later recognise Mr Onnoghen’s voluntary resignation instead of the order of his removal from office by the CCT.

Onnoghen’s exit from office in Jnaury 2019 came almost two years before he was due for retirement in December 2020.

Muhammad, who was appointed to succeed  Onnoghen, is also leaving office 18 months ahead of his official retirement age in December 2024.

Two Justices of the Supreme Court who asked not to be named confirmed  Muhammad’s resignation yesterday.


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