Two Unforgettable days in the life of Chief Justice Ariwoola

Barely 24 hours after he was invested with the country’s second highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Nigeria, GCON, Mr. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola was today sworn in as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He had been acting in the position since the retirement of Chief Justice Tanko Muhammed last June. The senate recently screened and confirmed his nomination as Chief Justice by the President.

He was sworn in today just before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa in the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ministers and other top government officials, including his colleagues on the Supreme Court.

Recall that Justice Ariwoola was appointed acting Chief Justice last June following the sudden resignation of then Chief Justice Tanko Muhammed as the head of the judicial branch of the Nigerian government. Tanko Muhammed’s departure had sent tongues wagging as to the real reason for the abrupt retirement. There were the usual conspiracy theories as to whether he left willingly or whether he was forced to go, although he cited health reasons in his letter.

The week before Muhammed left the CJN position, 14 justices of the Supreme Court, including, Ariwoola who was the Number 2 Justice, sent the then Chief Justice a letter considered unusual by observers, because it had nothing to do with any judicial decision but it raised as much noise as any major pronouncement. The letter had to do with the Justices’ welfare and it was seen in some quarters as direct indictment of how the CJN was running the ship.

In the leaked letter, the Justices accused the CJN of refusing to address the issues despite drawing his attention to them earlier. They complained of a lack of legal research assistants, despite the magnitude of cases being adjudicated.

In the letter titled, “The state of affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and demand by Justices of the court”, the Justices said that acting on behalf of the entire Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, they had carefully reviewed the state of affairs in Court and unanimously resolved to write formally and draw the attention of the CJN to their demands, telling him to act before it was too late.

Their demands included Justices accommodation, vehicles, electricity tariff, supply of diesel, internet services to residences and chambers, epileptic electricity supply to the Court, training, healthcare, failure of the CJN to carry the Justices along in managing the affairs of the Court, the deteriorating condition of services generally and the state of the litigations department. On erratic electricity supply, the justices said they have been confined to work between the “hours of 8am and 4pm daily, for lack of diesel” after they were notified of the development by the Supreme Court’s Chief Registrar.

They asked the CJN to regard their letter as a wakeup call take full responsibility as their leader, urging him not to concession his responsibility to people who had no responsibility or stake in preserving and defending the dignity of the Institution.

There were several comments from many quarters on how the dirty linen of the most respected court in the land had been washed, aired and ironed in public so much so that ‘non-learned’ persons are now the ones suggesting how members of the ‘learned’ profession should behave. Tanko Muhammed was due to retire on attaining the age of 70 next year,

Ariwoola as  Chief Justice of Nigeria, is the Number 5 citizen of the country in protocol precedence, and is expected to make judicial reform and the restoration of public confidence in the judiciary his priority.

Born on August 22, 1954, Chief Justice Ariwoola studied law at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife and bagged his bachelor of laws degree with honours in July, 1980. In July 1981, he was called to the Nigerian bar.

Justice Ariwoola was first appointed a Judge of Superior Court of record in Oyo State in 1992 from private legal practice. Before his elevation to the Supreme Court, he served as Justice of Court of Appeal in Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos Divisions. He was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2011. He was a Justice of the Court of Appeal between 2005 and 2011 after having been elevated from the State High Court of Oyo State.


One Comment on “Two Unforgettable days in the life of Chief Justice Ariwoola”

  1. My Lord is a handsome man. Just look at his grey beard and melanin skin. Being a Supreme Court Justice no be beans sha. I wish him a successful tenure as CJN.

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