Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ex-CJN Tanko blocks CJN Ariwoola from moving into Supreme Court quarters nine months after assuming office

The development was said to have led to a financial burden on the FJSC, having to maintain both the official apartment and that of Mr Ariwoola.

• March 3, 2023
Ariwoola/Ex-CJN Tanko
Justice Ariwoola and Ex-CJN Tanko

Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, has refused to vacate the Supreme Court quarters nine months after his resignation, denying his successor, Olukayode Ariwoola access to the apartment, Peoples Gazette has learnt.

Sources in the judiciary told The Gazette that rather than vacating the quarters within six months after his resignation as required by the law, the jurist relocated to his private apartment in Kaduna, leaving his children in the official residence of the chief justice in Abuja.

“The CJN, Hon Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, is still living in his residence, which has become untidy and congested, but he couldn’t evict Tanko’s children,” a source familiar with the matter told The Gazette on the telephone.

On June 22, 2022, Mr Tanko, the 16th chief justice of the apex court, resigned, citing ill health grounds. The resignation of the National Judicial Council chairman came less than a week after this outlet exclusively reported how 14 justices of the apex court accused him of corruption, gross misconduct and failure to prioritise their welfare and address issues.

Subsequently, Mr Ariwoola, a Supreme Court justice since November 22, 2011, was appointed as acting CJN on June 27 and sworn in on October 12 at the council chamber of the State House, Abuja, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But since his swearing-in, Mr Ariwoola has yet to move into the CJN quarters, as Mr Tanko failed to formally vacate the premises for unclear reasons.

Within six months after his resignation, Mr Tanko, who would have retired after the mandatory age of 70 years on December 31, 2023, was entitled to a rented apartment and a financial package before getting a retirement home.

But sources in the judiciary told The Gazette that Mr Tanko asked his children to liaise with the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) on getting him the apartment.

“They took the children to more than five houses in Abuja for them to select or choose for their father, but they all declined, preferring to remain in the official residence of the CJN,” a source said.

The source added, “Since Tanko has not left the official residence officially, the Supreme Court continue to pay all the utility bills, including daily fueling of diesel generators with taxpayer’s money.”

The development was said to have led to a financial burden on the FJSC, having to maintain both the official apartment and that of Mr Ariwoola.

However, the source disclosed that moves to ensure Mr Tanko’s children vacate the apartment were ongoing as the apex court’s chief registrar, Sarki Bello, travelled to Kakduna on Wednesday to plead with the former CJN.

Mr Tanko and the spokesperson for the NJC, Soji Oye, did not return the request seeking comments on the matter.

Meanwhile, shortly after his resignation, the Nigerian Senate insisted that it would investigate the allegations against Mr Tanko despite his resignation from the judiciary.

This was a sequel to a motion moved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters chairman, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti).

“Even though Muhammad has stepped down as CJN, most of the issues raised by the Justices of the Supreme Court and other stakeholders within the judiciary remain and need to be addressed urgently to prevent an eventual shut-down of the Judiciary,” the senator said.

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