On Health Grounds, the Chief Justice of Nigeria Resigns

Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad (1)

According to his spokesperson and local media sources, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has resigned from his job.

Muhammad, 68, who served as the nation’s chief justice for three years but has been on the Supreme Court since 2005, announced his retirement on the grounds of his health.

On Monday afternoon, Ahuraka Isah spoke with Al Jazeera to clarify the information that had earlier been published by Nigerian TV station Arise News.

However, when pressed for further information regarding his resignation or his replacement, he remained silent.

After controversially removing his predecessor Justice Walter Onnoghen only weeks before an election in which the judiciary often plays a significant role, President Muhammadu Buhari named Muhammad as acting chief justice in 2019.

Advertisement ~ Scroll to continue

Diego Garca-Sayán, a former Peruvian justice minister and United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges, stated at the time that the suspension of Nigeria’s highest ranking judge violated international human rights standards regarding the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers.

Muhammad’s retirement happens just a few weeks after an unusual complaint by 14 of Nigeria’s 16 Supreme Court justices surfaced about a range of welfare and logistical difficulties, including a shortage of research assistants and inadequate housing.

Muhammad has received the court’s first letter of complaint in its almost 60-year history.

Concerns were raised about the justices’ access to legal research assistants, the court’s inconsistent electrical supply, the justices’ reportedly outdated work automobiles, some of which were described as “substandard,” and the lack of internet in their residences and chambers.

Muhammad responded by claiming that although the supreme court had “been living up to its constitutional responsibility,” it “does not exist outside [of] its environment” and had been impacted by the difficult economic circumstances the nation was facing at the time. 

At the moment, nearly 90% of the nation’s income is used to service debt.