All justices of Supreme Court, except Mr Sidi Bage, Saturday boycotted the swearing-in of 250 members of 2019 Election Panels by Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mr Tanko Muhammad, in a problematic start to his headship of the judiciary. Muhammad was appointed acting CJN on Friday by President Muhammadu Buhari and sworn in following on a controversial ex parte order of Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) directing the suspension of incumbent CJN, Mr Walter Onnoghen.
Nonetheless, Muhammad sued for decency among judicial officers to protect the integrity of the judiciary.
But the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the inauguration of the election panels by Muhammad as a legal invalidity.
PDP said Muhammad had allowed himself to be used to desecrate the hallowed temple of justice, his oath of office and oath of allegiance, saying the only option left for him is to quit the bench.
Onnoghen’s trial had drawn wide condemnation within and outside Nigerian judicial community.
The swearing-in ceremony for the electoral panel members, Muhammad’s first official function as CJN, took place at the Main Court Room, Supreme Court Complex, Abuja, with just one justice of the apex court in attendance.
No reason was given for the absence of other justices. But it was generally believed to be an indication of strong objection to Onnoghen’s trial and suspension, and Muhammad’s subsequent appointment, as the bizarre events in the Nigerian judiciary took a turn for the worse.