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Supreme Court Gives Sweeping, Unconvincing Denial of CJN’s COVID-19 Status

Supreme Court Gives Sweeping, Unconvincing Denial on CJN’s COVID-19 Status

The COVID-19 status of Nigeria’s Chief Justice (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has not been ascertained, as conflicting information have emerged.

One of the eight Justices that were recently elevated to the Supreme Court, Ibrahim Saulawa was reported to have confirmed that the CJN tested positive for COVID-19, but the Supreme Court, in a statement that was signed by its director of press and information, Akande Festus, debunked reports making the round about the CJN’s health status

Justice Saulawa who was said to have made the disclosure during the unveiling ceremony of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria, MULAN, in Abuja on Tuesday, said the CJN was receiving treatment in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

The CJN’s absence at the swearing-in of 72 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria, on Monday, caused apprehension and speculations about his health status.

He was represented at the event by the second highest ranking Justice of the Supreme Court, Bode Rhodes-Vivour.

The official statement from the apex court said the fact that the CJN was “unavoidably absent” at the function, was not enough to conclude that there is anxiety over his health.

The statement however failed to give further information about the CJN’s health. In fact, the statement was mute over the COVID-19 speculation.

The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to the story currently in circulation with the above caption which was published on page 38 of This Day newspaper on Tuesday 15th December 2020.

“It is necessary to state that there’s no iota of truth in the claim being peddled by the publication, as there hasn’t been any indication made public or otherwise that has shown any anxiety over the CJN’s health.

“This is obviously a product of the imagination of the author of the concocted story which has literally failed the test of sound, investigative journalism as no form of enquiries were made by the Reporter before hitting the public domain with this baggage of falsehoods to mislead the public by crying wolf where none is in sight.

“The Hon. CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad being unavoidably absent at a function is not enough to plunge into this premeditated conclusion that there’s now “anxiety over his health.

“The other aspect of this monumental falsehood is the erroneous claim that the “CJN has not been seen in public for weeks.”

“We are still at a loss as to where the Reporter got that malicious information from, as the CJN has been very active and even presided over the swearing-in of the newly appointed Justices of the Supreme Court a few weeks back.

“It should be noted that no business survives on falsehood. You cannot whip up sentiments through sensational reports to attract traffic to your media organisation.

“Certainly such practice leads to nowhere.  We must eschew acts capable of eroding our good values at all times”, the statement read.

However, the CJN’s speech, read by Justice Rhodes-Vivour during the event on Monday, was ironic in a way, because he decried the impact of “ravaging coronavirus pandemic” on the Judiciary, saying “If what the scientists and medical experts are telling us is anything to go by, Covid-19 will remain with us for as long as God permits, even if the vaccines are readily available. May God see us through!”.

Moments later, he was rumored to have contracted the disease, a rumour the apex court has not categorically debunked.


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