A public affairs commentator, Phrank Shaibu, has encouraged judicial officials to deter fraternizing with politicians.
Shaibu, who is also a special assistant for public communications to the Peoples’ Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, who was reacting to comments credited to Nigeria’s Chief Justice Oluwakayode Ariwoola, said in a press release on Friday that Judge Ariwoola’s descent into political commentary portends great dangers for the country’s judiciary.
According to the press release, Shaibu noted that, “Last month, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Lateef Ariwoola, inaugurated 277 members of the Election Petitions Court to adjudicate matters arising from the general election. of 2023 in the country.
“At the event, Judge Ariwoola warned the judges to remain neutral and impartial during this political season. He also warned politicians not to try to induce judges.
“However, it may appear that the honorable CJN is not ready to lead by example in light of his recent statements and openly and shamelessly hobnob with politicians.”
The press release specifically frowns on the frequency with which the CJN makes comments in support of the actions of a group of PDP governors led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
“On October 30, 2022, the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, hosted the CJN, who is from Oyo State, in an elaborate reception. At the event, Judge Ariwoola sat down with Makinde and other governors who are now proud to be the G5. All the governors posed with the CJN for the cutting of the cake where political statements were made.
“But it may seem that Judge Ariwoola continues to enjoy the company of politicians. On Thursday, November 24, 2022, the CJN was in Rivers State, this time as a guest of Governor Nyesom Wike, who is also a member of the G5.
“Seemingly overwhelmed by Wike’s lavish reception at the inauguration of the judicial projects, the CJN said in the live event that it was happy that Governor Makinde was a member of the G5 and in solidarity with Governor Wike.
“In addition to endorsing Makinde’s membership in the group, Ariwoola joked that Wike was holding Makinde for ransom and threatening to remove his sister (Makinde’s wife), who he said was from Rivers.
It will be remembered that Judge Ariwoola was in Rivers State a few days ago to commission some judicial projects undertaken by the state government.
Shaibu noted, however, that it was inappropriate for the CJN to use such an event to redouble partisan commentary.
He said Justice Ariwoola was wrong to make a comment like ‘that’s why we shouldn’t be afraid to have these men from the integrity group and I’m happy my own governor is among them because he would try to imitate his friend and brother in law because We came here to get married for my governor.
‘Then Governor Wike will always threaten to call his sister if my Governor doesn’t play ball. That’s why they see him following his Excellency (Wike) because my governor is afraid that his wife will be deposed,’ he joked.
Shaibu said that the CJN recognized the presence of the group of five governors at the gala night and the inauguration of the judicial project that took place in Rivers, noting that “they were similarly present when Makinde held a ‘lavish’ reception for celebrate his appointment as CJN some months ago.”
The statement further underlines the fact that CJN has been quoted as having said that, “whether people like Wike or not, she was leaving a legacy for generations to come, emphasizing that her record will be hard to beat for any future.” any other public official.
“Such hobnobbing between the CJN and politicians is unprecedented in the annals of the country. As Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) said, the judges are like ‘the big masquerade that cannot be unmasked publicly in a traditional African setting’.
“They have a divine mystique that should insulate them from partisan politics.
“After God, the Supreme Court is the highest authority in our nation. It is therefore terrifying and highly unfortunate that the man who heads Nigeria’s judiciary is still cavorting with politicians less than three months before the election.
“Unfortunately also, Judge Ariwoola is the head of the National Judicial Council which imposes discipline on judges. What kind of example is he setting for other judges across the country? So what happens when there is an apparent compromise in the disciplinary body of the Nigerian judiciary?
The statement urges stakeholders in the judiciary to call the CJN to order, saying: “this is why it is important that the Nigerian Bar Association, the Judicial Corps and all other accredited organizations in the judiciary warn judge Ariwoola immediately against the desecration of the exalted office of the CJN.
“No mean words, a corrupt judge is no different from fake medicine. Both are expected to fix problems, but it turns deadly when they do the opposite of what they were meant to do.
“Nigeria has been blessed with honorable and notable judges in recent decades such as Judge Chukwudifu Oputa, Judge Olukayode Esho, Judge Taslim Elias, just to mention a few. Some have gone to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to make Nigeria proud and etch their names in the sands of time. History will be cruel to Judge Ariwoola if he continues to show his hand by jumping into the political arena.”