- More and more civil society groups are calling on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola, to resign
- About 18 of such civil society organisations say the CJN should step down, describing him as a full-blown politician
- There are plans to sustain the protests against the CJN until he leaves his position, according to the groups
FCT, Abuja - Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Societies of Nigeria (CCSN) have again asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola, to resign his appointment over a political comment he made in Rivers state recently.
CJN Ariwoola had run into troubled waters, following a political statement he made at a dinner organised in Port Harcourt last weekend.
He was reported to have said he was glad that Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde, was a member of G-5, which is a rebellious group within the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, which had since kicked against the statement.
The Coalition is made up of 18 CSOs among which are Civil Society Forum of Nigeria, Nigeria Youth Development Forum, Democratic Youth Initiative, Forum for Social Justice, Movement for the Development of Democracy and Safeguard Nigeria Movement.
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Others are Alliance for People's Welfare, Forward Nigeria Movement, Human Right Crusaders, Defenders of Democracy, Democratic Rights Assembly and Voter's Rights Assembly.
Addressing another press conference on Tuesday, December 6 in Abuja, the coalition team leader, Olayinka Dada, said the groups have outlined measures and legitimate means through which, the CJN should he fail to resign, will leave office.
According to Dada, the country needs an impartial umpire to oversee the judiciary and this Nigerians will not compromise.
“Since the CJN visited Port-Harcourt for a project commissioning, the political landscape of Nigeria has witnessed a lot of unease. This is due to the partisan utterances made by CJN Olukayode Ariwoola at the event.
“Our elections are around the corner and Nigerians expect an impartial judicial who most likely will dispense justice where disputations occur before, during and after the polls.”
At the Port-Harcourt event, Chief Justice Ariwoola was quoted as thus:
'That is why we should not be scared to have these men of the integrity group, and I am happy that my own governor is among them because he would try to imitate his friend and in-law because we came here to marry for my governor.
'So, Governor Wike will always threaten that he will call back his sister if my governor fails to play ball. That is why you see him following His Excellency because my governor is afraid of his wife being recalled.'
“These statements are enough testimony of the partisanship of the CJN in political dispute involving his friends in a political party out of the 18 parties running for elections in 2023. Nigerians are dissatisfied and confused as to this new twist.
“As we all know, elections results are often contested in courts and in many instances, ends at the Supreme Court. How will the CJN allow honest dispensation of justice if the party and friends he already aligned with are interested parties in such disputes?
“How will the CJN resist the temptations of influencing judgements in favor of his allies? How will his interferences in politics deescalate tension that is already building up?
“We are now at a point where Nigerians feel the gains recorded in the new electoral laws and the reforms INEC put in place may be truncated by the judiciary whose head is now fully a politician.
“We demand the CJN's immediate resignation to save our democracy. To allow the judiciary to have vested interest in politics is to damn representative governance which guarantees people's choice in electing their preferred leaders.”
The groups also invited all Nigerians to their zonal rallies commencing next week to seek the resignation of the CJN from his position.
Police teargas protesters seeking resignation of CJN
Recall that another group of protesters had stormed the premises of the ministry of justice on Tuesday, November 29, seeking the removal of Ariwoola.
The protesters were seen with placards with solidarity and agitative inscriptions seeking the removal of the current CJN.
They were, however, dispersed forcefully by men of the Nigeria Police Force.
G5 comment: Arewa groups ask CJN Ariwoola to resign before 2023 polls
In a related development, 52 northern groups have demanded for the resignation of Ariwoola, accusing the CJN of aligning himself with some PDP governors.
The national coordinator of the groups, Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, said the CJN’s perceived gaffe had confirmed the assertion that some judges were no better than politicians in black robes.
According to him, Justice Ariwoola had cast serious doubts around his personal integrity and the expectations for the judiciary to maintain neutrality in whatever circumstances.