OPPORTUNITY OPENS this, Wednesday, to observe publicly, Nigerian Senate screens the country’s acting Chief Justice, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad for confirmation as substantive Chief Justice Of Nigeria. Not much is known about Muhammad’s land mark judicial achievements, other than that he is a Nigerian jurist, Justice of Nigerian Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Today’s Senate exercise must not be screen play or panoramic session – allowing partisan interests to influence the line of questioning needed to evaluate Justice Tanko’s eligibility to head the country’s present weak judiciary. Justice Tanko Muhammad rode on the controversial suspension from office of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, on alleged corrupt practices, to become acting CJN, in January 2019.
Tanko Muhammad’s resume is rich – a bachelor’s degree in law in 1980; master and doctorate degrees in 1984 and 1998; called to the bar in 1981; appointed Chief Magistrate in 1989; Judge at Bauchi State Sharia Court of Appeal in 1991; Justice of Nigerian Court of Appeal in 1993 – position he held for thirteen years before he was appointed Justice of Supreme Court in 2006; and acting Chief Justice of Nigeria in January 25, 2019.
President Buhari, last Thursday, sent Muhammad’s name to the Senate with a letter asking the Senate to confirm him substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria. Nigerian National Judicial Council recommended to the president, in line with laid down procedure, that Muhammad should be confirmed CJN.
“In accordance with Section 231 (1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which gives the president the power to appoint a Chief Justice of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council and subject to the confirmation of the appointment by the Senate, I have the honour to forward the nomination of Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed for confirmation as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“It is my hope that this request will receive the usual expeditious consideration of the distinguished Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, Buhari said in the letter.
Relevant information about the acting CJN’s credentials are with Senators ahead of the screening, according to Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. The Senate screening exercise should be in the best interest of advancing Nigerian judiciary.