When I saw Justice Tanko Mohammed carrying a hunter’s bag, during his hurried installation as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, in January, I knew that Nigeria had entered a different type of one chance too difficult to be explained.

President Muhammadu Buhari and the people urging him on had got a man Friday who would do their bidding at the highest court of the land.

Then the argument arose as to whether he acted right in agreeing to be sworn-in as acting CJN owing to the unconstitutionality surrounding the suspension of Walter Nkanu Onnoghen by president Mohammadu Buhari. Some argued that he should have stayed away and refused to be sworn-in in order to protect the independence and sanctity of the judiciary. Now we know better.

Justice Tanko Mohammed or Ibrahim Tanko has been in the business of interpretation of laws for 40 years. He is also said to have a PhD in law at a time that Nigerian University system still had substance. That is why his outing in the Senate on Wednesday was nothing but a show of how low the country has sunk in everything.

Every sphere of our lives is on the decline. Nigeria is in the hands of charlatans who are not in government to govern but to perpetuate and fulfill regional and ethnic dreams. From an economy that is pauperising citizens to poor education. Nothing is working, except, perhaps, the greed and shallowness of the few holding the country down.

It takes a low thinker to select low thinkers to work with him. When you take a look at all the appointees of president Mohammadu Buhari, they have one thing in common: they have equal or less brain power of the man who appointed them.

After the Apex Court ruled that it was denying Osun people justice based on technicalities as the judge who read the lead judgment at a lower court did not attend one of the tribunal’s sitting, social media was agog with questions pertaining to whether justice should be denied based on technicalities or based on the merit of the case. No other person but the law interpreter-in-chief was in the best position to answer that question. As the CJN, Justice Tanko is supposed to be abreast with precedents set by the supreme Court. These precedents shape the business of law interpretation worldwide. But it has been revealed that he does not read nor research.

The question asked by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe as to the direction that Tanko’s Supreme Court will be headed to sparked a spin off. Mr Tanko was not asked to define the word technicality. No. The supreme court ruled in the 2018 case of Akeredolu vs Abraham, ‘technicality in the administration of justice shuts out justice.’…It is therefore better to have a case heard and determined on its merit than to leave the court with the shield of victory obtained on mere technicality.”, but in Adeleke Vs Oyetolla, the court gave judgement based on technicality just because one of the panelists at the tribunal did not sit for one day, irrespective of whatever solid point that was made by Adeleke during the trial. The ruling of the court in Adeleke vs Oyetola was judgment and not justice.

So Tanko should not find legal technicalities difficult to explain but he did.

When asked by Abaribe if his court would deliver judgment based on technicalities, Tanko went on a voyage, tried to define technicality and failed. And like I wrote earlier, likes appoint like. This was the same thing with president Buhari who was asked who he was during an NTA interview and he began talking about ku kanta ku.

According to Tanko: “Permit me distinguished senators to ask what a technicality is? It is something which is technical. By definition, it is something that is not usual and may sometimes defy all the norms known to a normal thing. Now, we have technicalities in our laws and this is because these laws we have inherited were from the British.

“The British people centuries ago introduced what is known as technicalities in their laws. Now, if something is technical, it is giving leeway for double interpretation. It may be interpreted in one way by Mr. A and another way by Mr. B.

As if that was not enough, he continued..

“Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field.

“Ask me anything about an aeroplane, I don’t know; ask me to drive an aeroplane (sic), I am sure if you are a passenger and they told you that the flight is going to be driven (sic) by Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko, I am sure you will get out of the plane because it is something that requires technicality and if I have any technicality, my technicality will only be limited to law. Therefore, it is something that has to do with the perception or the way you will be able to achieve the goals you want to achieve.”

Senator Abaribe simply dug a hole in which CJN Tanko buried his reputation, Abdul Mahmood, a Constitutional lawyer said. However, as a Nigerian, such a hole should scare you.

Abdul Mahmood maintained that: “The burial shouldn’t have happened nor would the hole have appeared as a grave if the CJN had applied his mind to what was strictly a contest between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law and how the court through its approach resolves that contest through interpretation and application of its rules to enthrone justice.

“It was a jurisprudential question that should have been answered jurisprudentially. Sadly, he didn’t. The question was on legal technicality, which basically revolves around the court’s strict application of the letter of the law- whether substantive or procedural law.

“The answer should not have been about how the court elicits the testimonies of a pilot. There’s no ambiguity or mischief in the law, for canons of construction to cure. Or for expert evidence to present clarity or elucidation. The answer ought to have elicited a response that synced with the specific subject and the conflict between the two authorities cited by Senator Abaribe.

“And perhaps an answer that sat with the legal-philosophical approach of our courts to the substantive rules of the law- the letter of the law. The questions were simply: why should the absence of a judge in a case (for one day only) subvert justice? What is justice? Why did the court depart from its judgment in Wike v Dakuku (2015) per Kekere-Ekun JSC in Adeleke v Oyetola (2019)? The CJN chose to embark on a voyage of needless discovery”

“There’s a sense in which the CJN exposed the jurisprudential hollowness of the current Supreme Court by his response. If anything highlighted the decline of legal scholarship in our country today, the confirmation hearing of the CJN did. The inter-disciplinary starkness of law in its application is clear, by the evidence presented at the confirmation hearing; and it is even sad that the stark evidence presented itself at the highest level. But, it wasn’t the case in the past. Bairamian J elucidated what today constitutes the competence or the grounds on which a court assumes jurisdiction in Madukolu v Nkemdilim (1960) and he did so without reference to a previous judicial authority. Bairamian J was simply brilliant.
In all of this, what beggars belief is the hollow understanding of jurisprudence exhibited by our highest judicial officer! Sad”

I agree with Mahmood. What we have now are mugus running the affairs of the country. Mugu presido, mugu CJN , mugu IGP, mugu SP, mugu Speaker. Mugus everywhere.

One can only imagine destinies that will be destroyed in Tanko’s Court with such unspeakable shallowness. Having watched proceedings of the Oputa panel and having read some judgements of Chukwudifo Oputa, Justice Adolphus Karibi-White etc, you would marvel at the exemplary intelligence showcased in their judgments.

Justice Tanko Mohammed is what happens when a country kills merit with quota, the same reason a pupil from Anambra needs to score 138 in order to be admitted into a unity school while his classmate from Katsina only needs to score 5 to be so admitted.

It is glaring to the blind that Nigeria is not going anywhere in the next century. Nigeria is a project that cannot work. The country is stuck in a vicious circle. Buhari is a shinning example of what a president should not be but can be rigged back to power on the virtue of where he comes from.

Justice Ibrahim Tanko said the British was responsible for the problem of technicalities in Nigeria’s judicial system. But he failed to realise that it was also a British judge, Lord Mansfield, who defied legal technicalities and held in 1776 that “a slave became a free man the moment he set foot on English soil”. Thus, a wrongly accused should have become free in Tanko’s court but for technicalities, he will serve jail terms.

Justice Tanko may have disgraced every lawyer in Nigeria, but the Senate has disgraced every Nigerian by confirming a man who has no grasp of ordinary spoken English language, let alone of the technicalities of the judicial process as the Chief Justice of the Nation.