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Body of Benchers raises peace panel as Supreme Court justices fight CJN

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The Body of Benchers has set up a seven-man committee to look into the rift between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and 14 Supreme Court Justices over welfare and administrative issues.

The committee is headed by a former CJN, Mahmud Mohammed.

The committee was set after an emergency meeting of the body in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Chairman, Body of Benchers, Wole Olaonipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is the Vice Chairman of the committee.

Olanipekun after the inauguration of the committee said

“We held an emergency meeting today (Tuesday) and for now, we have set up a Body of Benchers Judiciary Advisory Committee. It will be a standing committee of the Body of Benchers and the Chair of the committee is Justice Mahmud Mohammed, former Chief Justice of Nigeria.

“I am a member and the Vice Chairman of the Body of Benchers is a member and four others. We are swinging into action. We are talking to parties concerned, individually and collectively.

“For now, we are advising that they should sheath their swords. The immediate objective of the committee is to resolve the impasse while the ultimate objective is to work out an acceptable package for judicial officers all over the country, particularly judicial officers in superior courts.”

Olaonipekun also disclosed that the committee would work to improve the welfare package for judicial officers in the country.

He added, “The committee has also been mandated to compare and contrast what the judicial officers take as their remuneration among others with what is obtainable in other parts of the world.

“The committee will confront the executive with what we derive as the best condition of service, remuneration, among others, as obtained by other countries of the world. The CJN cannot do this; the organogram tilts against the independence of the judiciary as we want it.”

About 14 aggrieved Supreme Court justices had, in a leaked letter, accused the CJN of abandoning his responsibilities and diverting funds meant for the running of the apex court.

They complained about their accommodation, vehicles, electricity tariff, supply of diesel, internet services to justices’ residences, training for justices and epileptic electricity supply to the court.

They also accused the CJN of receiving their demands without acting “after several persistent requests” to hold a meeting which was finally held on March 31, where a welfare committee was set up.

Among other things, the Supreme Court Justices are demanding to know what had become of funds set aside for the training of justices, alleging that they were denied the usual two to three international workshops annually.

CJN’s defence

Reacting to the allegations on Tuesday, the CJN stated that the apex court, like other establishments in the country, is affected by “a devastating economic crunch.”

As a result of the economic crunch, Muhammad explained that the leadership of the Supreme Court could no longer meet some of its obligations to the Justices, especially in the area of welfare.

The CJN, while berating his colleagues for bringing their complaints to the public, said the apex court was facing a cash crunch.

Muhammad’s reaction was contained in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Ahuraka Isah, titled, ‘State of Affairs in the Supreme Court and demand by Justices of the Supreme Court.’

The statement read, “Judges in all climes are to be seen and not heard, and that informed why the CJN refrained from joining issues until a letter, said to be personal, is spreading across the length and breadth of the society. This was akin to dancing naked at the market square by us with the ripple effect of the said letter.

“The Supreme Court does not exist outside its environment; it is also affected by the economic and socio-political climate prevailing in the country. Besides that, the Apex Court has to a larger extent, been living up to its constitutional responsibility.”

Muhammad explained that the Supreme Court this year budgeted to re-roof and rehabilitate its complex built over 30 years ago.

According to him, two Supreme Court Justices died within the period under consideration while four retired costing the court some funds in form of gratuities and allowances.

He added, “Two weeks ago, eight Supreme Court Justices were nominated for a workshop in London as the court cannot take all of them there at once otherwise the job would suffer. They would be going in batches.

“Accommodations are being gradually provided for the few that are yet to get them. There is none of the Apex Court Justices without SUV and backup cars. If any of them were purchased but refurbished, the external and internal auditors are here in the court to take those that bought them up over it.

“The high cost of electricity tariff and diesel is a national problem. The Chief Registrar might have budgeted for N300 per litre but diesel is now selling for over N700 per litre and therefore has to find a way around it without even bringing it to the attention of the CJN. But there is no way the generator would be put off if the Court is sitting.

“Internet services have been restored to Justices’ residences and chambers, just as some allowances have been paid to them. The CJN held a meeting with his brother Justices last Thursday and another one is due to hold this week.”

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Woman claims King Sunny Ade is her biological father, says ‘I’m not after his fame or money’

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A middle-aged woman, Elizabeth Temitope, has claimed that legendary musician, King Sunny Ade, is her biological father.

The woman, who spoke with Punch said a prophet had informed her that there was a secret her mother withheld for decades, urging her to persuade her mother to confess.

Temitope said her mother told her the man she had always known as her father was not her biological father but King Sunny Ade was.

However, several efforts to get in contact with King Sunny Ade had proved abortive, she said.

The woman said she approached the Human Rights Commission and wrote Sunny Ade twice but there had been no response from the musician.

She noted that she was not making efforts to contact Sunny Ade for his fame or riches but she wanted to confirm if she was his father or not.

She said, “In 2019, a prophet called me and asked about my mother, he said I should persuade her to reveal a secret to me. I initially didn’t consider the message as important but I informed my husband but he told me not to disregard the message.

“He implored me to do as the prophet had said. My mother was staying with one of my sisters in Ifo. I called her, she came around and I told her what the prophet told me. She confessed and said the man I had always known as ‘Father’ was not my biological father. I was confused so I asked who my father is. She said Niyi, I made further inquiries to know his hometown.

“She said King Sunny Ade, the famous musician from Ondo State. I couldn’t believe I was just learning about it for the first time in so many years. My husband asked me to calm down because I was already tense.

“She told me when she was a young lady, her father wanted to give her hand in marriage to an old man. She initially declined but was persuaded to accept the man.

“Meanwhile, she had met Niyi before then and was already two months pregnant for him. She said she told her mother she was already pregnant but could not tell Niyi about it.

“She eventually married the old man but because she didn’t love him, she went to Ondo State to look for Niyi but couldn’t find him.

“According to what she told me, she was always quarrelling with the man and didn’t allow him to copulate with her and after several months, he sent her packing and she returned to her parents. It was there she gave birth to me and after a year, got married to another man.

“When I clocked two, the aged man who my mother was married to, came to pick me up, refused to send me to school. I was there for a while before I met my husband. After my wedding, we relocated to the north, I spent 10 years there and had all my children. My mother was not in the picture all this while, I didn’t even know her. But when I returned to Lagos, we reconnected.

“So, when the prophet delivered that message, I challenged my mother and she told the truth. My husband said she should take us to my biological father’s house, we went there but we couldn’t meet him. We went another day, but we couldn’t meet him. We were informed that there is a festival in Ondo that he doesn’t miss.

“We went there and saw him performing on stage, we waited but at the end of the day, the efforts were futile. Since then, I have been trying to meet him but it’s still the same.

“I approached the National Human Rights Commission, they wrote him twice, nothing. I’m not making efforts to meet him because of money or fame but because I want to know my origin.”

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Organ harvesting: Dino Melaye reacts to arrest of Ekweremadu, wife

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Dino Melaye

Former Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye has expressed his support for ex-Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu amid controversy of alleged organ harvesting.

Melaye said he stands with Ekweremadu because there was no wrongdoing by the Senator.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested in London for allegedly plotting to harvest the kidney of a Nigerian minor.

The UK metropolitan police had arrested and charged Ekweremadu and his wife to court, but the duo pleaded not guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

“These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge,” Magistrate Lois Sheard said.

Ms Sheard remanded both defendants in custody ahead of their hearing next month.

Sharing Ekweremadu’s letter via his Twitter handle, Melaye wrote: “Sen. Ike Ekweremadu notified the British authorities on his trip with the said boy. I stand with Ike.”

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Supreme Court set to rule on controversial Electoral Act on Friday

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Friday deliver judgment on the legality or otherwise of the controversial section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 .

The apex Court is set for its verdict in the suit instituted against the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice.

A notice for the judgment delivery has just been sighted, indicating that the apex Court will make its position known this morning.

The notice was served on Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for their judgment.

Our correspondent further observed that the suit is the only one for determination today.

Buhari and Abubakar Malami had filed the suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

In the suit filed on April 29, Buhari and Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.

Section 84 (12) has been a subject of intense litigation and political debate in Nigeria since President Buhari signed the amended Electoral Act 2022 into law in February this year.

Shortly after signing it into law, Buhari had asked the parliament to delete the controversial clause in the Electoral Act, but the National Assembly declined the president’s request.

According to Section 84 (12) of the legislation, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

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