Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, who was one of the seven-man panel that oversees the appeals that sought to remove President Tinubu from office bowed out of the apex court bench on Friday after he was allegedly reported to have pulled out from the seven-man panel.
Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad has spent 47 years in active judicial service and has reached the 70-year mandatory retirement age.
The retiring justice accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, of abusing the powers in office during the valedictory session organized in his honour by the Supreme Court. He also addressed what he observed as rots in the judiciary that have continued to affect the justice delivery system in the country.
Justice Muhammad stated before lashing out at the CJN: “Through the years, I rose to become the second most senior justice of the country’s apex court and Deputy Chairperson of the National Judicial Council. “Considering the number of years I have spent in judicial service and the position I have attained by the grace of the Almighty, I feel obligated to continue the struggle for reforms for a better Judiciary and would be leaning on the earlier submissions of those who had existed before me,”
He stressed that the present judiciary structure gave excess powers to the CJN such that can usually make decisions without consulting other colleagues.
His words: “As presently structured, the CJN is Chairman of the NJC which oversees both the appointment and discipline of judges, he is equally Chair of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), the National Judicial Institute (NJI), and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) that appoints Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“In my considered opinion, the oversight functions of these bodies should not rest on an individual alone. A person with absolute powers, it is said, corrupts easily and absolutely.
“As Chair of NJC, FJSC, NJI, and LPPC, appointments as council, board, and commitment members are at his pleasure. He neither confers with fellow justices nor seeks their counsel or input on any matter related to these bodies. He has both the final and the only say.
“The CJN has the power to appoint 80 percent of members of the council and 60 percent of members of FJSC. The same applies to NJI and LPPC.