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S’Court Justices Petition CJN Over Poor Service Conditions

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Worried that their budgetary allocation has not increased for four years, Justices of the Supreme Court have protested to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice lbrahim Tanko Muhammad.
In the protest conveyed to the head of the Judiciary via a letter, the Justices complained that poor welfare had hindered their job.
The apex court has been receiving N110billion yearly since 2018 despite the increase in its size and responsibilities.
It was learnt that its annual budget was not always regularly cash-backed leading to non-provision of essential services for the Justices.
Unable to bear this anymore, the Justices protested to the CJN.
Responding, Justice Muhammad told his colleagues he had been accountable and transparent.
A source at the apex court said the problems, which were beyond the CJN, included delay in cash backing the budget of the apex court.
Disturbed by the tension between the CJN and the Justices, the Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad has waded in.
After some shuttles, the retired Bage at the weekend succeeded in brokering peace with a resolution to appeal to the Executive arm to address the challenges facing the Supreme Court Justices.
Investigation revealed that the tension at the apex court has been festering since March 23, when the CJN constituted a Welfare Committee.
On March 24, the committee submitted a list of demands by the Supreme Court Justices to the CJN.
The issues raised by the Justices are non-replacement of poor vehicles; accommodation problem; lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic; epileptic electricity supply to the Supreme Court; increase in electricity tariff; no increase in the allowances for diesel; lack of Internet services to residences and chambers.
Others are internal problems, including non-signing of amended Rules of Court for almost three years; sudden stoppage of two to three foreign workshops and trainings per annum for Justices; no provision of qualified legal assistants.
A source said: “On the 24th day of March, 2022, the welfare committee submitted a report to request for review of electricity allowance because of the increase in electricity tariff nationwide.
“The welfare committee also submitted our request for diesel allowance, because of the epileptic electricity supply, the astronomical hike in the price of diesel and the fact that Justices require electricity to work at home.
“Recently, the Chief Registrar served Justices with an internal memo, that electricity would be supplied to the court between the hours of 8am and 4pm daily, for lack of diesel.
“The implication of this memo is that the Justices must finish their work and close before 4pm. With all due respect, this is the peak of the degeneration of the court; it is the height of decadence, and clear evidence of the absence of probity and moral rectitude.
“This act alone portends imminent danger to the survival of this court and the Judiciary as an institution, which is gradually drifting to extinction. The Judiciary is an arm of government.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria, just like the Presidential Villa and the National Assembly, is the seat of the Judiciary as an arm of government. The implication of the memo is that this arm of government is potentially shut down. May God never allow that day.
“The committee also requested for the restoration of our monthly Internet allowance, because we require uninterrupted Internet service in order to have access to materials online to write our judgements.
“With regard to Justice’s vehicles, several are due for replacement, while the new Justices have not received their full complement of vehicles to date. Moreover, some of the vehicles supplied to the Justices are either refurbished or substandard.”
Another source in the apex court gave more insights into the challenges facing it.
The source said that apart from welfare problems, there are issues affecting the performance of the judges, including the non-signing of the amended Rules of Court for almost three years.
The justices complained of lack of opportunities to attend two to three trainings in a year.
The source added: “The state of health care in the court has deteriorated. The Supreme Court clinic has become a mere consulting clinic. Drugs are not available to treat minor ailments. There is general lack of concern for Justices who require immediate or emergency medical intervention.
“The Rules of Court are the immediate tools employed by Justices to dispense Justice to Court users. The amended Rules of Court have been kept for almost three years now, awaiting signature. We strongly believe the new rules will aid speedy dispensation of Justice.
“At the meeting we also discussed training. In the past Justices were nominated to attend two to three foreign workshops and trainings per annum with an accompanying person for reasons of age.
“Justices have only attended two workshops in Dubai and Zanzibar. They were not accorded the privilege of travelling with accompanying persons as was the practice. We demand to know what has become of our training funds.
“The National Assembly has increased the budgetary allocation of the Judiciary. We find it strange that in spite of the upward review of our budgetary allocation, the court cannot cater for our legitimate entitlements.
“Another issue discussed was the provision of qualified legal assistants. We are aware that even lower courts provide legal assistants for their Justices and Judges. The Supreme Court, apart from being the highest court in the land, is a policy court.
“We are confronted with various complex legal issues of national significance with the addition of time bound matters coming in between our regular court sittings. We require qualified legal assistants in order to offer our best.”
An official of the apex court, who spoke with our correspondent off-the-cuff after one week of investigation, said the problems were not the CJN’s fault.
He said: “There were issues between the CJN and the Supreme Court Justices but they have been resolved by a former Justice of the court, Justice Sidi Bage Muhammadu I, who is the Emir of Lafia.
“In fact, the last of such peace meeting was held last Thursday and a permanent reconciliation sealed on Friday. Bage made many shuttles until he brokered peace.
“The challenges are connected with the delay in cash backing the Supreme Court budget. It is one thing to have the budget on paper; it is another thing to release the funds to the court. The release takes some time.
“We are all aware of the economic problem facing the country. The Executive cannot dispense the cash it does not have.
“Again, the Supreme Court has been receiving N110billion since 2018 without any increase. The salaries and allowances of the Justices were last reviewed in 2017. Where is the fault of the CJN?
“Concerning electricity supply, it is a general problem in the country. Even at that the CJN ensures that supply is available from morning till 6pm.
“The high cost of diesel is not the making of the CJN, who is not even in charge of the coordination of the basic needs of the court. We may need to adjust the budget to increase the diesel allowance of the Justices. It also means, some services will suffer.”
On accommodation, the source added: “I think what happened was that some Justices were not comfortable with the accommodation provided for them for security reasons. I think every Justice has accommodation now.”
Asked of the outcome of the peace meeting, the official said: “The CJN will take action on the Rules of the court; we will adjust budget to cater for the comfort of justices and there will now be regular consultations on the operation of the court to avoid miscommunication of this nature.
“I think the CJN and Supreme Court Justices are now on the same page. Those of us in the administration will implement all the resolutions agreed upon by the parties.”

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N1.8bn Discovery: Recall Buratai For Investigation, PDP Tasks Buhari

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to recall the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Ambassador to Benin Republic, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai (rtd), to face investigations over an alleged connection with the N1.8billion recovered in a property in Abuja.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) recently recovered N1.8billion worth of property owned by a military contractor in Abuja.
The opposition party, in a statement by its National Organising Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, yesterday, demanded the recall and investigation of Buratai.
PDP said its demand was predicated on the alleged missing $1billion meant to purchase arms to fight terrorism.
It added that corruption under President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC-led administration has led to the upsurge in unhindered terrorism attacks, mass killing of citizens, and loss of many of our gallant fighters.
The statement partly read, “It is therefore of serious interest to Nigerians when reports that the ICPC discovered the sum of N1.8billion in various currencies, expensive cars, and jewellery secreted in a property in Abuja allegedly linked to the former COAS broke out.
“There are already apprehensions that the discovered money is part of the security fund that was criminally diverted. This is especially against the backdrop of the frenzy and spirited efforts by certain quarters linked to the APC to suppress investigation and free flow of information, politicise the matter and sweep it under the carpet.
“Nigerians will recall that our Party has on several occasions alerted that the looting of our treasury is officially sanctioned and enabled by the APC administration with its refusal to prosecute those who were alleged and found to have been involved in massive corruption.
“It would also be recalled that the PDP drew attention to plans of the APC to create a slush fund account from monies fraudulently drawn from the national treasury to finance their plot to rig the 2023 general election.”
According to the PDP, the APC test runs their 2023 rigging plot in the Ekiti State governorship election with massive use of money to prosecute a vote-buying scheme.
The opposition party insisted that the reports of alleged massive looting under Buhari’s watch further confirm the APC administration as a haven for treasury looters.
“Moreover, the recently exposed looting of N80billion by the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, which investigation has now gone cold is suspected to have been engineered by the cabal at the very high level of the APC administration,” it added.
The PDP maintained that Buratai should return to the country and be made to face investigation.
According to the party, this is important because any allegation bordering on the looting of funds meant for the fight against terrorism is of grave national concern and consequence.
PDP requested that Buratai be thoroughly investigated and if found wanting must be made to face the full weight of the law.

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King Jaja, Alapu-In-Council Receive Rivers PDP Guber Candidate In Opobo …Say Fubara’s Emergence Represents Riverine Communities’ Yearnings

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The Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, alongside the Alapu-In-Council, last Saturday, received the Rivers State gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 general election, Sir Siminialayi Fubara in Opobo, the headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State.
While receiving the candidate, King Jaja said Fubara’s emergence represents the long yearnings of the riverine communities to produce the governor of the state since creation, and prayed that God perfects his victory at the elections.
The Amanyanabo noted that the kingdom would not take the opportunity of his emergence for granted as he expressed the undying gratitude of his kingdom to Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who supported the emergence of their son as the candidate of the ruling party.
He urged his people to leave no stone unturned in supporting Fubara to victory in 2023.
Speaking earlier, the PDP flag bearer, Sir Siminialayi Fubara,had told the Amanyanabo and the Council of Chiefs that his visit was to intimate them of his emergence as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections, and to seek their blessings as their son.
He said he considered it proper to do this before party campaigns commence, especially in seeking their prayers and blessings.
Fubara noted that his victory at the primary was not by his effort but grace of God at work, and enjoined the kingdom to join him in applauding Governor Nyesom Wike for supporting his emergence.
He further commended the governor for his developmental strides in Opobo and across the state.
The standard bearer visited the Amanyanabo and Alapu-In-Council along with party stalwarts and elders of Opobo/Nkoro extraction.

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Insecurity: Northern Group Backs Matawalle On Self-Defence Order

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A northern group, Arewa Development Forum for Peace and Justice (ADFPJ), has said the directive by the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, that residents in the state should bear arms to defend themselves was in order.
This, the group, while rising from an emergency meeting held in Kaduna, yesterday, said was because the people of the North-West part of the country had suffered so much from banditry activities over the years.
They, therefore, noted that any lawful measure taken by the state to stop the rampaging terrorists that had consistently invaded the state, was in order.
Consequently, a statement released by the Executive Chairman of the group, Alhaji Zubairu Mustafa, also urged governors from the North-West to emulate the Zamfara State’s helmsman by issuing similar directives to their citizens.
The North-West comprises Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
The group also knocked the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, and other elites for hastily rebuking and condemning the governor’s order, adding that they were just being economical with the truth over the spate of insecurity in Zamfara State and other parts of the country.
According to them, the insecurity has festered across the country because there was no serious strategy in place by security agencies to end the challenge.
They added that with Matawalle’s order, the insecurity in his state would cease because if citizens were armed, bandits or terrorists or other criminal elements, would rethink before striking.
The statement read in part, “The Northern Elements Group, known as AREWA Development Forum for Peace and Justice, has risen from an urgent meeting of general concern in Kaduna with the resolution to support the idea of Zamfara State Governor, Bello Mohammed Mutawall, on giving permission to citizens to acquire and use weapons for protection against invading bandits in their communities.
“The group pleads with the state governors in the North-West region to set up machinery and measures for the Joint Task Force of able youths as community-based vigilante volunteers in order to complement the efforts of security operatives in the fight against criminal activities in the region like that of the Community Protection Guard (CPG) launched in Zamfara on Saturday.
“The group faulted negative reactions over the suggestion of Zamfara State Governor and bemoans at hurried comments of discouragement by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and other elites who are economical with the truth of happening on the recent kidnapping, killings and attacks of the communities in North-West region and environs by suspected bandits.
“From Zurmi to Tsafe, from Bakura to Maru to Shinkafi, these bandits have continued with their deadly and dastardly attacks against innocent people because security agencies are overwhelmed with inadequate manpower, precision equipment and logistics facilities to nip the nefarious activities of these blood-thirsty terrorists, insurgents and bandits in the bud.
“In this case, Governor Matawalle is the man wearing the shoe and knows where it hurts, hence, our call on all meaning Nigerians to support his call on locals to legally acquire arms to protect and defend their communities against any form of criminal invasion.
“Therefore, we are supporting any leader that seems to have agreed and made a clear and acceptable decision within the ambit of law to bring lasting peace and security to the lives and properties of citizens.
“Nothing is more important than a leader in playing his role of saving lives and properties of his people than attending funerals or making a sympathy visit and lamentations after attacks.
“Proactive measures that include supporting military & Police operations, provision of logistics and giving communities’ rights of self-defence, are more important and best options for bringing a lasting and assured peace, cohesion and security to people in dire situations like now.”

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