The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, said on Thursday that no human being, living or dead, could influence the judgments of the Supreme Court.
The Director, Press and Information of the Supreme Court, Dr Festus Akande, quoted the acting CJN as saying this in a statement on Thursday.
Akande had on April 29, 2019 made a similar assertion in a statement debunking a news report which attributed the exit of the former CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to the influence of President Muhammadu Buhari on the administrative decisions of the Supreme Court and its management.
Akande restated the independence of the Supreme Court and its Justices in a statement quoting the acting CJN as speaking to the management of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria led on a courtesy visit to his office by the corporation’s chairman, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), on Thursday.
Justices of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Olukayode Ariwoola, Kekere-Ekun, Musa Dattijo, Ejembi Eko and Uwani Abba-Aji, were said to have joined the acting CJN in receiving the AMCON management.
According to Akande, Justice Muhammad told his visitors that the Supreme Court Justices were independent-minded and were only answerable to their conscience and God while writing and delivering judgements.
The acting CJN was quoted as saying, “We take our time in taking notes and writing judgments to avoid making mistakes. We subject every case before us to intense debates and arguments during our conferences in order to be as dispassionate and objective as possible.
“Let me state clearly that we are not answerable to anybody and can never be intimidated by anybody whatsoever in taking our decisions.
“But for certain, we are only answerable to God Almighty because He is the owner of our lives. No human being, living or dead, can influence the reasoning or judgments of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“We are very independent in Supreme Court because of the enormity of the trust and responsibility reposed in us by the Almighty God, the constitution and our dear nation.”
Muhammad maintained that with the volume of appeals it entertained weekly, the Nigerian Supreme Court was the busiest and most hard-working apex court in the world.
He added that to reduce the deluge of appeals filed before the Supreme Court there must be an amendment to the constitution that would terminate some kinds of appeal at the level of the Court of Appeal.
He said, “I beat my chest to say that there is no Supreme Court in the world that works the way the Supreme Court of Nigeria does.
“Except when we go on our annual vacation between late July and early September of every year, we keep hearing appeals. It is on record that there is no day of the week, between Monday and Friday that we don’t sit.
“We deliver judgments on Fridays. Sometimes, we give as much as 35 judgments on some Fridays. We oftentimes overstretch ourselves, as we work assiduously day in, day out.
Earlier in his address, Banire said the corporation, since its establishment in 2010, had acquired over 120,000 loans from 23 banks totalling N3.8tn.
He added that an additional N2.2tn was paid as financial accommodation for the then ailing banks.
According to him, “the total current exposure” as of April 30, 2019, is N4.19tn, with an excess of 7,000 outstanding obligors.
Banire, however, said that “top 350 obligors” account for 82 per cent of the outstanding loans of N4.19 tn.
By Dominic C. Odoh
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