By Ononye VC
Nigerians were amazed over the viral petition written against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by Justices of the Supreme Court over alleged poor welfare package for the judges.The fourteen Justices in a first of its kind protest letter in the 58 year history of the apex court,cited operational challenges that have almost crippled the efficient adjudication of cases at the court.The aggrieved justices led by the second most senior judge of the supreme court,Olukayode Ariwoola,listed the issues to include,vehicles, electricity tariff,supply of diesel,internet services,residencies and chambers and epileptic power supply.Following the complaints that were raised at a March 2022 meeting after several persistent requests to hold the meeting,a welfare committee was set up to aggregate the issue.But the CJN in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant (Media), Ahuraka Isah, titled, ‘Re: State Of Affairs In The Supreme Court And Demand By Justices Of The Supreme Court’, denied the allegations.He explained the Supreme Court justices were provided with SUV vehicles, cars and accommodation.“Accommodations are being gradually provided for the few that are yet to get. There is none of the Apex Court Justices without SUV and back up 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,” part of the statement read.On the allegation that there was no electricity in the courtrooms, the statement said, “The high cost of electricity tariff and diesel are 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.“The amendment of court rules is on the process, it has to be critically reviewed to avoid conflict with the constitution and other extant laws. Not all the CJN has reviewed the rules in the past. Within the three years, his brother Justices mentioned came the pandemic and the judiciary workers’ strike.”He also debunked an allegation that the justices had no Internet to do their work, urging the public to disregard “adverse feelings” among the Justices of the Supreme Court,“The 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.“The general public should be rest assured that there’s no hostility or adverse feelings amongst the Justices of the Supreme Court, as everyone is going about his normal duty,” he added.