Tanko Muhammad, former chief justice of Nigeria will get N2.26 billion severance package.
The package is broken down as N2.25 billion as benefits and N10.08 million gratuity, which is 300 per cent of his annual basic salary of N3.36 million. Besides, he will get pension for life.
But President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred on him the Grand Commander of the Order of Niger, GCON, which is second to the highest honour in the country.
The conferment took place on Monday at the sweaing-in of the Acting CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The conferment of the honours has continued to generate mixed feelings from Nigerians.
While some regard it as hasty and smarks of condoning corruption following allegations by other Justices, others see it as an honour well deserved.
However, while others say the only hope would have been the probe being instituted by the Senate, but were quick to dismiss it as another ‘ritual’ that will not produce the desired results.
“A man who was forced to resign because of monumental allegations bothering on corruption, incompetence, among others, was immediately conferred with a national honours.
“So what does that tell us as Nigerians and even the so called probe by the Senate does not mean anything to us as there’s no difference between the executive and the nineth assembly, particularly, the Senate, ” says a concerned citizen.
The remuneration and severance package of political, public, and judicial officers are published on the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) website but the full details of allowances are not.
Muhammad will get the financial package based on Section 291 (2) and (3a-c) of the Constitution as well as Section 2 of the Pensions Rights of Judges Act.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan had on Tuesday mandated the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Committee to investigate allegations of financial corruption and bad leadership levelled against Muhammad by all his 14 fellow Supreme Court justices.
Dare Ariyo-Atoye, Adopt A Goal Initiative and Coalition in Defence of Nigeria’s Democracy Convener, has urged the National Assembly to halt the payment of benefits to Muhammad pending the outcome of the investigation.
The allegations, according to sources, were majorly responsible for the ‘forced retirement’ on Monday, apart from ill-health.
Besides, federal lawmakers investigating corruption allegations is a ruse, as they themselves steal from the treasury, according to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Morally and legally, a thief cannot investigate a thief with any positive result.
Both the ICPC and the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have prosecutorial powers and this is why the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) asked them to arrest and prosecute Muhammad if found guilty.
It was further learnt that what precipitated Muhammad’s resignation is memory disorder, and judicial sources disclosed that he had been battling it long before he was appointed CJN in 2019.
The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine defines memory disorders are disorders of cognition, the ability to reason, remember, make decisions and communicate.
The illness may include dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, vascular cognitive impairment and hydrocephalus.
“He has been travelling abroad, particularly, to Dubai for treatment for the illness. The government was aware of his condition before he was appointed as the CJN after former CJN Walter Onnoghen was booted out,” a source explained.
A Supreme Court official recounted that judicial circles were shocked and expressed concern over Muhammad’s appointment three years ago.
Said he: “When he was appointed, the entire justice system was worried because he has been battling the sickness for long and workers were taking advantage of it because the man was forgetting things.
“Even now in the Supreme Court, there is a serious contest between the workers and the justices because the workers had written to them for intervention but the justices only used their complaints as grist for their own matter.
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“There were some approvals for the workers which the CJN did not implement. When the workers wrote, they expected the justices to intervene but they instead converted their protest letter into a source of information to fight for their interests.
“Though the man has gone, there is still tension in the Supreme Court.”
Nigerians have continued to criticize the Buhari led federal government for what they regard as ‘unprecedented legacies of impunity and brutalized and humiliated institutions’ that would be left behind after they may have left the government.