CSOs Demand Resignation Of CJN Ariwoola Over ‘Nepotism, Conflicting Court Judgments’

Adoga Stephen By Adoga Stephen - Editor-In-Chief
4 Min Read

The Civil Society Consortium on Judicial Accountability (CSCJA), a group of civil society organizations (CSOs), has called for the resignation of Olukayode Ariwoola, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), due to allegations of nepotism.

In a letter dated April 16 and addressed to Ariwoola, the CSOs expressed deep concern about the increasing trend of nepotistic appointments in the Nigerian judiciary.

The letter was signed by various organizations, including the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL), Agape Care Initiative, Open Justice Alliance, Tap Initiative, Basic Rights Council Initiative, Advocacy Centre for Development Youth Initiative Against Violence and Human Rights Abuse, Citizens Gavel, Youth Development and Empowerment Initiative, Cross River Watch, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), DASS Community Youth Awareness Initiative, Gatefield, DigiCivic Initiative, and Lex Initiative.

“Judicial appointments are the gateway to a more accountable system and institutional framework for the administration of justice,” the letter reads.

“It is indeed the foundation of the judiciary, and if the foundation is destroyed, how can we expect a functional judiciary devoid of state capture, impartiality, inequity, injustice, and unfairness.”

The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) claimed that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) misused his position as the head of the National Judicial Council (NJC) by selecting his son and daughter as judges in the federal and federal capital territory (FCT) high courts.

They also accused the CJN of appointing his brother, Adebayo Ariwoola, as the auditor of the NJC.

The CSOs further stated that Ariwoola’s tenure has been marred with “conflicting court judgments that are alien to the spirit and letters of the law.”

“For instance, the decisions of the supreme court in the cases of former senate presidents Ahmed Lawan and Machina, Godwill Akpabio, and Udom Ekpoudom are a radical departure from the extant provision of the Electoral Act of 2022, which has expressly prohibited the emergence of a person as a candidate in respect of a primary in which he or she did not participate as an aspirant,” they said.

“It is impossible for your lordship to uphold the highest standards of ethics in the Nigerian judiciary when your lordship is in fact in breach of the same standards.

“Consequently, we believe that the right thing to do is for your lordship to resign from the position of the chief justice of Nigeria in order to preserve the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Nigerian judiciary.

“It is evident that the judiciary under your leadership has been brought to utter disrepute, which further erodes citizens’ trust and confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.”

Martin Obono, coordinator of the CSOs, spoke with journalists during a protest to the Supreme Court  and suggested that the office of the CJN should be restructured to prevent further abuse.

“We, therefore, request that an independent inquiry into the appointment of Olukayode Ariwoola Jr. and nomination of Oluwakemi Victoria Ariwoola be conducted to determine whether there were other suitably qualified persons nominated,” Obono said.

“In line with the age-old judicial maxim nemo judex in causa sua, that justice Olukayode Ariwoola be asked to recuse himself as chairman of the National Judicial Council pending the determination of the investigation.

“That the investigation be conducted and concluded within the shortest possible time and the results of the investigation be made available to the petitioners and the public.

“That if justice Olukayode Ariwoola is found to have breached the Code of Conduct, appropriate disciplinary measures be meted against him.”

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By Adoga Stephen Editor-In-Chief
Stephen studied Mass Communication at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu (now Lagos State University of Science and Technology), where he acquired requisite training for the practice of journalism. He loves the media, and his interest mostly lies in print medium, where his creative writing skill makes him a perfect fit.