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Poor Welfare of Justices: CJN Replies Colleagues

Poor Welfare of Justices: CJN Replies Colleagues

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Tuesday, told his colleagues on the bench of the Supreme Court that the court was not immune to the prevalent economic and sociopolitical conditions in the country.

14 justices of the Supreme Court had protested against the poor working conditions at the apex court as well as their welfare packages which has remained the same despite the harsh economic reality in the country.

Their grievances which were contained in a letter to the CJN have however gone viral, insinuating that all is not well with the third arm of government which is usually seen as the last hope of the common man.

Reacting, Justice Muhammad remarked that it was unfortunate that such issues which ought to be dealt privately had become something of public discourse.

In a statement by his media aide, Mr Ahuraka Isah, the CJN, however blamed the current challenges at the Supreme Court on the prevalent realities on ground in the country.

In the statement tilted, “Re: State Of Affairs In The Supreme Court And Demand By Justices Of The Supreme Court”, the CJN while confirming receipt of the letter written and addressed to him by his brother Justices of the Supreme Court Bench, said that the development was, “akin to dancing naked at the market square by us with the ripple effect of the said letter”.

He said that, “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. Besides that, the Apex Court has to a larger extent, been living to its constitutional responsibility”.

The CJN explained that a budget usually contains two sides – the recurrent and the capital, adding that all the two are broken down into items.

“The Federal Government releases the budget based on the budget components. And it’s an offence to spend the money meant for one item for another”, he said.

He was of the opinion that the letter by the angry justices in summary was that “more or all ought to have been done and not that nothing has been done; which is utopian in the contemporary condition of our country”.

He stated that before eight new Justices were appointed in 2020 into the apex court bench, there was no additional budget to provide new chambers with equipped library, legal assistants, residential accommodations and logistics.

 He also explained how the death of two Supreme Court Justices and the retirement of four others impacted on the budget of the apex court.

“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 SUV and back up cars. If any of them were purchased but 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 problem. The Chief Registrar might have budgeted for N300 per litre but diesel is now selling for over N700 per litre and therefore has to find a way around it without even bringing it to the attention of the CJN. But there is no way the generator would be put off if the Court is sitting.

“The amendment of court rules is on the process, it has to be critically reviewed to avoid conflict with the constitution and other extant laws. Not all the CJN has reviewed the rules in the past. Within the three years his brother Justices mentioned came the pandemic and the judiciary workers’ strike”, the statement read in part.

He also disclosed that the internet services which his colleagues complained of had been restored to the residences and chambers of the justices just as some allowances had been paid to them.

He also claimed that a meeting with his brother Justices was held last Thursday and another one was due to hold this week with a view of resolving the crisis.

“The general public should be rest assured that there’s no hostility or adverse feelings amongst the Justices of the Supreme Court, as everyone is going about his normal duty”, he said. (Thisday)

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