CJN calls for, CJN to swear in 62 new SANs

CJN’s ‘partisan comment’ violates oath of office —PDP

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THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has told the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, that his recent remark on the internal crisis of the main opposition party violated his oath of office. 

It will be recalled that the CJN, while commenting on the internal issues within the PDP at a public event in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Thursday, had commended the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, for being a part of the G5 governors. 

But while the CJN had since said the statement was a joke, the PDP, in a statement issued on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, expressed concern over the statement. 

The party noted that while it has utmost respect for the judiciary and judicial officers, it “rejects any action or utterance by any judicial officer, let alone the CJN, that undermines the integrity of the judiciary.” 

The party, which described the CJN’s statement as unacceptable and inconsistent with his status as the head of the judicial arm of government, said: “We are worried that such partisan comment by the CJN is in violation of his oath of office as the head of the country’s judicial arm, which is expected to be im- partial and non-partisan. 

“Irrespective of the circum- stance or situation, the CJN is expected to be circumspect at all times and avoid partisan actions and utterances that are likely to erode the institutional integrity of the Judiciary and bring it to disrepute especially as the nation prepares for the 2023 general elections. 

“Nigerians expect the CJN, with his experience, to be in a position to advice, rebuke and punish members of the judicial arm who get entangled in the political arena. The fact that the CJN himself is the one reportedly violating this critical ethic of neutrality, fairness and respect for the oath of office for judicial officers raises serious concern in our polity. 

“The question is how do Nigerians and especially the PDP trust that the CJN will be an even-handed arbiter in any case or matter relating to internal issues in our Party or those connected to other political parties? It is instructive to note that the test for a Judge to recuse himself from a matter is the “likelihood of bias” and the CJN is expected to be mindful of that test in his public engagements,” the party stated. 

But in a statement made available to newsmen at the weekend, the Supreme Court Director, Press and Information, Festus Akande, stated that the CJN has never, at any point said he was happy that Governor Makinde is a member of the G5 governors. 

He argued that ‘Justice Ariwoola, is a judicial officer and not a politician and as such, would never directly or remotely make such comments or innuendoes’. 

He said: “We wish to set the record straight by making it clear that the CJN and other senior judicial officers drawn from different parts of the country were in Port Harcourt on Thursday and Friday, being the 24th and 25th days of November 2022, to commission the two buildings to accommodate the Federal Judicial Service Commission’s South-South liaison office and the Honourable Justice Mary Peter-Odili Judicial Institute, that were conceptualised and constructed by the Rivers State government. 

“Even at the state banquet organised as part of the events, the CJN made it clear in his brief remarks that he (CJN) was not in Port Harcourt for the state banquet, but simply to commission the two projects as a mark of honour for the Judiciary and Honourable Justice Mary Peter-Odili (JSC) and later go back to Abuja thereafter. 

“Similarly, he said he was very surprised to see the G5 governors (Integrity Group Governors), just as he equally expressed the same surprise when he saw them in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the reception organised in his honour by his state government in October 2022. His surprise particularly stemmed from the fact that he saw his own state governor, Seyi Makinde (who incidentally is a member of the G5 Governors) at the Port Harcourt occasion. 

“He equally stated jocularly that being that Governor Makinde married from Rivers State and is equally very close to Governor Nyesome Wike, he would be able to replicate the developmental strides of the latter in Oyo State for the good of the citizenry. This, of course, is a comment that, ordinarily, ought to elicit applause and not myopic misrepresentations, as governance is all about positive comparisons and healthy competitions,” Akande said in the statement.


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