President Muhammadu Buhari says he was constrained to accept the resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Muhammad Tanko amid misconduct and misappropriation of funds allegations levelled against him by 14 justices of the apex court.
There were series of reports occasioned by a protest authored by Supreme Court justices against Mr Tanko, accusing him of corruption, misconduct and neglect of personnel welfare.
The president made this known while swearing in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as acting CJN in the State House, Abuja, on Monday.
“Ordinarily, he (Tanko) was scheduled to retire from the Supreme Court on the last day of 2023. Unfortunately, as no man is infallible, ill health has cut short Chief Justice Tanko’s leadership of the Nigerian judiciary at this time. I am therefore constrained to accept his retirement, albeit with mixed-feelings,” declared Mr Buhari.
Notwithstanding the embattled ex-CJN’s abrupt resignation following his colleagues’ apparent vote of no confidence in him, Mr Buhari Mr Tanko “is able to fully serve his term in office, it presupposes that he is able to perform the functions of the office without let, hindrance or any form of disability.”
The president added that the ex-CJN’s era witnessed “several landmark, jurisprudential and policy decisions by the Supreme Court.”
He added, “CJN Tanko dealt firmly with the issue of reckless and indiscriminate grant of ex parte orders that was assuming serious dimensions. History will be kind to Justice Tanko Muhammed for his modest contributions to Nigeria’s Judiciary, the strengthening of our democracy and national development.”
He urged other Supreme Court justices and the judiciary to live above board as the 2023 general elections approach.
“Our nation is approaching a critical general election in 2023, the judiciary must not do anything to fail the ordinary people of Nigeria which may make them lose confidence in the judiciary,” said Mr Buhari.
The president reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring “the independence of the judiciary and will not do anything nor take any steps to undermine your independence.”
Mr Buhari honoured the ex-CJN with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, (GCON).
“In line with the custom of decorating Chief Justices of Nigeria with the second highest national honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, (GCON), and upon the advice of the Council of State in that regard, as his Lordship CJN I. Tanko Muhammed is taking a bow from the Supreme Court, I hereby bestow on him the National Honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, (GCON),” the president declared.