Less than three years after assuming office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Ibrahim Muhammad may be removed.
Meanwhile, the plot by some Presidency cabal members who are dissatisfied with Muhammad’s style of leadership in the judiciary is connected to the current travails of Justice Mary Odili, wife of a former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, sources told SaharaReporters.
It was also learnt that the plot to remove Muhammad and harass Justice Odili or also remove her, if necessary, is gathering steam by the day, sources told SaharaReporters.
Justice Odili, a Supreme Court judge, is being haunted to ensure she does not replace Muhammad when he is removed, as the one who is next in line to the Chief Justice.
Muhammad was appointed as acting CJN on January 25, 2019, following the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Onnoghen, who was appointed in 2016, was removed after corruption allegations were levelled against him.
But in March, Onnoghen, speaking at a book launch ceremony he attended with his wife, disclosed that was removed from office over a false allegation that he held a secret meeting with former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, before the 2019 general elections.
Muhammad was sworn in as a substantial CJN on July 24, 2019, with expectations.
SaharaReporters, however, gathered that the grouse of members of the Aso Rock cabal who are also angling for the removal of Onnoghen’s replacement, Muhammad, is that he has been too slow to do their bidding.
“They are planning on removing the current CJN. He is expected to retire in 2023 but they are not happy with him. They said he’s too slow to do their biddings,” a top source told SaharaReporters.
The source said since Onnoghen was removed for him, clearly the cabal behind his good fortune had expectations of him which they think he is not delivering as anticipated.
SaharaReporters gathered that the recent illegal raid of the Abuja residence of Justice Odili of the Supreme Court is connected with the plot to remove Muhammad.
Security operatives had on Friday night invaded the house of the Supreme Court Justice based on information that “illegal activities” were going on there.
Odili is next in line to Nigeria’s Chief Justice and stands to benefit from his removal should that happen before her retirement on May 12, 2022.
Sources said the raid, approved by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) was to let her know she would not be allowed to succeed Muhammad as the head of the nation’s judiciary.
Odili, who was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court on June 23, 2011, was born on May 12, 1952. This means she will be due for retirement by May 12, 2022, on turning 70.
But Muhammad, who was appointed a supreme court judge in 2006 and sworn in on January 8, 2007, was born on December 31, 1953 — meaning he is younger than Justice Odili and will not retire until 2023 when he turns 70.
Another source said, “Regarding the raid on Odili’s House, it was planned because they don’t want her to become the next CJN. Though she’s retiring in about six months, that is like six years to the cabal. They are planning to remove Tanko Muhammad before then and don’t want the woman to even act as CJN for one day.
“The most senior Justice after Odili is Olukayode Ariwoola but they claim he’s got a terminal illness. He is expected to retire soon on health grounds. The fourth most senior of the Justices who could take over as CJN is Musa Dattijo Muhammad, another Northerner from Niger State. He is also expected to retire in 2023.
“They accused Odili of being a PDP (opposition party – Peoples Democratic Party) judge and that her husband helps to fix lots of judgements at their home in Abuja. That was why the husband was also embarrassed recently.
“Forget also about Malami’s denials, he was directly in charge of the raid. He chose the day President Muhammadu Buhari arrived from Saudi Arabia to do it because he needed to impress Buhari that he is still loyal as efforts are being intensified to remove him as Minister.
“They want to force Tanko out soon and don’t want the woman to replace him. They considered her too close to the PDP, so they have to embarrass her to ensure she doesn’t get to replace him at all.”
Indeed, the passport of the former Rivers State Governor, Odili was in June seized by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
However, on October 18, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the immediate release of former governor Odili’s passport.
The court said there was no legal justification for the action the NIS took against the former governor.
Odili, who was Rivers State governor from 1999 to 2007, had approached the court to challenge the seizure of his passport by the NIS.
Meanwhile, the Concerned Senior Advocates of Nigeria, South-East chapter, has condemned the Friday raid on Justice Odili’s residence by security operatives, describing it as another frontal attack on the independence and integrity of the Judiciary.
The SANs said the consistent and systematic attacks on the Judiciary by the Executive arm of government is clearly in breach of the constitutional protection of judges and the Judiciary.
They alleged that such attacks are aimed at emasculating the Judiciary
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Saturday and signed by Professor Ilochi Okafor (SAN). Mr. Etigwe Uwa (SAN), and Mr. Chijioke Okoli (SAN).