Home Politics CSOs ask CJN to resign over ‘nepotism, conflicting court judgments’

CSOs ask CJN to resign over ‘nepotism, conflicting court judgments’

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Thecable.ng

The Civil Society Consortium on Judicial Accountability (CSCJA), a group of civil society organisations (CSOs), has asked Olukayode Ariwoola, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), to resign from office over allegations of nepotism.

In a letter dated April 16, addressed to Ariwoola, the CSOs said they are “deeply concerned about the alarming trend of nepotistic appointments within the Nigerian judiciary”.

The letter was jointly signed by 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 & Human Rights Abuse.

Others are 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 CSOs accused the CJN of abusing his office as chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) by appointing his son and daughter as judges in the federal and federal capital territory (FCT) high courts.

They also alleged that the CJN appointed his brother Adebayo Ariwoola as the auditor of the NJC.

The CSOs added that under Ariwoola’s leadership, there have been “conflicting court judgments which are alien to the spirit and letters of the law”.

“For instance, the decisions of the supreme court in the cases of former senate president, 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.”

Meanwhile, the group staged a protest on Tuesday at the road leading to the headquarters of the supreme court in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Speaking with journalists during the protest, Martin Obono, coordinator of the CSOs, said the office of the CJN should be unbundled to avoid being further abused.

He said the group is also calling for an independent inquiry into the allegations of nepotism and favouritism against the CJN.

“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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