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Buhari Praises Ex-CJN Muhammad, Honours Him With GCON National Honour

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, praised the immediate-past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, even as he conferred on him the second highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

The President spoke at the swearing-in ceremony of the 18th Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who succeeded Justice Muhammad.

Justice Muhammad had resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health.

The President urged the Judiciary not to fail Nigerians so as not to lose confidence in them.

Acknowledging the contributions of the exiting CJN, Buhari commended him for holding the Judiciary together, he conferred the second highest national honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) on him.

“Ordinarily, he 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. Much as one may wish that the Chief Justice of Nigeria Muhammed 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 instant resignation of Justice Tanko is however envisaged under Section 231(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which contain provisions relating to vacancy and the occupant of the Office of Chief Justice of Nigeria being unable to perform the functions of the Office for any reason.

“Under a constitutional democracy like ours, government powers and responsibilities are clearly allocated and shared among the three tiers; the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The three organs must work harmoniously and optimally in accordance with their respective Constitutional mandates.

“Nigeria’s Judiciary under the leadership of Chief Justice of Nigeria Tanko Muhammed judiciously exercised the Judicial powers of the Federation. His era witnessed several landmark, jurisprudential and policy decisions by the Supreme Court, and by extension other Courts established by the Constitution.

“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.

“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)”, he said.

Meanwhile, speaking to the State House correspondents after he was sworn-in, Justice Ariwoola assured that he would not fail Nigerians in his new assignment.

The new acting CJN said, “What Nigerians expect from me is to comply, preserve and abide and protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And so be it. That is what I will do especially with the cooperation of my brother Justices of the Supreme Court. We shall not fail Nigerians.”

On how he intends to handle the current controversy in the Supreme Court, he said: “There is no controversy in the Supreme Court. We are one with the Chief Justice. That’s why you heard the President said His Lordship, is disengaging on the grounds of ill-health. No controversy we’re one.”

Asked about the welfare issues raised in the letter addressed to the former CJN, he said: “It was an internal memo of the court. It was not a petition. It was not a letter. It was addressed by the brother Justices of the Chief Justice and presented to him, His Lordship directly. There were issues to be resolved amongst justices.”

Asked if those issues would be resolved under his leadership, Justice Ariwoola said: “Yeah, we’ve started resolving it.”

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