June 15, 2024

Civil group asks CJN to resign over alleged abuse of office

The Civil Society Consortium on Judicial Accountability, CSCJA, has demanded the immediate resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, over alleged abuse of office and favouritism in the discharge of his duties.

The group, which claimed that its members are lawyers of public interest, expressed anger with the CJN over the appointment of his biological children as judicial officers in the recent appointments.

At a protest staged at the road leading to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the group accused the CJN of appointing his son, Olukayode Ariwoola Junior, as a Judge of the Federal High Court and also his daughter, Oluwakemi Victoria Ariwoola as a Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Amongst others, the group alleged that the CJN conferred undue advantages on his family by using the National Judicial Council, NJC, of which he is the chairman to recommend the two children as High Court Judges and for also using the Federal Judicial Service Commission to get their appointments approved at the detriment of some qualities.

The group members carried placards with various inscriptions amongst which were, “the CJN should resign now, stop judicial rascality, say no to nepotism, judicial accountability is a must “.

Speaking with journalists shortly after delivering the letter demanding the resignation of the CJN, the coordinator of the consortium, Mr Martin Obono, demanded that the office of the CJN be unbundled to avoid being further abused.

“The CJN’s appointments have raised serious concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary. More importantly, the violation of Rule 11 (iv) of the Code of Conducts for Judicial Officers in Nigeria which states that “in the exercise of his administrative duties, a Judicial Officer should avoid nepotism and favouritism”.

“The Consortium emphasized that the legal system must uphold the highest ethical standards to ensure that all citizens receive fair and equitable treatment under the law. Nepotism in judicial appointments not only violates principles but also threatens to weaken the rule of law in Nigeria”, Obono said.

Consequently, the protesters urged the CJN to take immediate responsibility for his actions and resign from his position, adding that the step is necessary to restore public confidence in the judiciary and demonstrate a commitment to ethical governance.

Obono maintained that “It is imperative that the judiciary remains free from personal bias and favouritism to safeguard the principles of justice.”

Meanwhile, the group also called for an independent inquiry into the allegations of nepotism and favouritism.

“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.

“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”.

When the office of the Director of Information of the National Judicial Council NJC, Barrister Soji Oye was contacted for reaction, he was said to be on annual leave and had travelled out of Abuja.

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