The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Monday demanded the urgent reform of the judiciary following the resignation of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the country’s Chief Justice.
The CJN, 68, resigned from the position on health grounds earlier on Monday.
However, there were reports that Justice Mohammed was forced to resign from the position after some Supreme Court Justices protested the poor management of the apex court under his watch.
President Muhammadu Buhari had since sworn in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting CJN.
The NBA President, Olumide Akpata, who reacted to the development in a statement, commended the former CJN for his lengthy service to the nation, and wished him quick recovery from his illness.
He, however, noted that Justice Mohammed’s resignation could not be divorced from the crisis in the Supreme Court.
The NBA president urged the CJN to initiate urgent reforms in the judiciary and rebuild Nigerians’ confidence in that arm of government and the legal profession as a whole.
He declared the NBA’s readiness to work together with Justice Ariwoola and the judiciary in addressing the ills that have continued to plague not just the judiciary but the entire legal profession.
The statement read: “The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has received the news of the resignation, on grounds of ill health, of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Dr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR.
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“We thank His Lordship for his lengthy service to the nation, and wish him quick recovery even as we pray for a well-deserved peaceful retirement. In the course of previous publications and communications, I have consistently appreciated the outgone Chief Justice of Nigeria for the cordial working relationship between the Bar and the Bench under our respective administrations.
“ I must do so again today as he bows out. It is however impossible, to consider His Lordship’s retirement in isolation of the recent unprecedented developments at the Supreme Court where 14 justices of the Court censured the outgone Chief Justice of Nigeria over His Lordship‘s handling of their welfare and related issues.
“Beyond this, there is near universal agreement that public confidence in the Judiciary and indeed the legal profession is at an all-time low.
“There is now more than ever the need for urgent reforms in the Judiciary and to rebuild the almost dissipated confidence that Nigerians have in the Judiciary and the wider legal profession in Nigeria.
“These should form the immediate first tasks for Hon. Mr. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who is expected to now take over as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“The NBA welcomes the appointment of Hon. Mr. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola and pledges its readiness to work together with His Lordship and the Judiciary in cleansing the Augean Stable and addressing the ills that have continued to plague not just the Judiciary but the entire legal profession.”