Senate lacks power to investigate CJN – Akpata
Olumide Akpata, president, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has said that the Senate lacks the power to investigate Tanko Muhammad, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who resigned from office on “health grounds.”
Akpata stated this at the 2022 annual conference of the NBA Section on Legal Practice (NBA-SLP). The conference with the theme “Legal practice in Nigeria: our reality, our future” held at Asaba, Delta State between July 3 to July 6.
According to the NBA president, it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has the power to carry out investigations into issues concerning the allegations made against the CJN.
The NJC is empowered by the 1999 Constitution in Paragraph 21 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, to appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over members and staff of the council.
The council also has the duty to deal with other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration and is to advise the president of Nigeria on all issues relating to the judiciary.
Speaking on the allegations of maladministration and malfeasance against the ex-CJN, Akpata said “there is no one, no matter how highly placed in the society, that cannot be investigated, and anyone guilty of any impropriety should be punished in accordance with the law.”
“Nobody should be a sacred cow in the event that a person is guilty of any financial malfeasance of any sort”, he said.
He, however, maintained that it is the NJC that should conduct the investigation and not the Senate.
Speaking on the issues, managing partner, Michael Adedeji Adeyemi, Promptus Legalis, stated that “the 1999 constitution gives the NJC the power to exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers.
It only makes sense that before any disciplinary action is taken, there must be an investigation into such matters. The NJC has the power to so investigate and mete out punishment to judicial officers when such is required.”
Olukayode Ariwoola, the acting CJN has recently called for a meeting of the NJC. It is not clear yet whether the allegations of maladministration against the ex-CJN will be one of the issues for discussion by the council.