President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, June 27, 2022, administered the judicial oath of office to Justice Olukayode Ariwoola of the Supreme Court, to confirm him as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), during a swearing-in ceremony held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja Nigeria.
Justice Ariwoola, 68, takes over from former CJN, justice Tanko Muhammad and is expected to serve in an acting capacity till further confirmation by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
While taking the judicial oath, he swore to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Government of Nigeria, as well as defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Justice Ariwoola’s elevation came on the heels of the sudden resignation of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the Chief Justice of Nigeria on Sunday night, on health grounds, as it was reported that until his resignation, the former CJN was seriously ill.
The immediate inauguration of Justice Ariwoola at the time of Justice Muhammad’s resignation, became possible following a constitutional provision which stipulates that the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, shall be inaugurated as acting CJN, following the death or resignation of the incumbent.
News of Justice Tanko’s resignation broke barely a week after 14 justices of the Supreme Court wrote to him to lament the dilapidated state of affairs in the apex court.
In the leaked letter, the justices alleged that Justice Muhammad failed to address the issues raised despite drawing his attention to them.
They had complained of a lack of residential accommodation and vehicles at the court, alleging that the former CJN was gallivanting with his ‘spouse, children and personal staff’ while not allowing them to travel with an assistant on foreign trips.
Justice Muhammad’s resignation as CJN, was confirmed by his Special Assistant on Media and Strategy, Mr Ahuraka Yusuf Isah and in line with the Supreme Court tradition, President Buhari duly inaugurated Justice Olukayode as the new Acting CJN Ariwoola today, Monday, June 27, 2022.
PRES. BUHARI REACTS TO JUSTICE MOHAMMED’S RESIGNATION
President Mohammadu Buhari, reacting to the resignation of Justice Tanko Mohammed, while swearing-in the new CJN said: “Earlier today, I received a letter from the Honourable Justice Dr. I. Tanko Muhammed, CFR, resigning his position as Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, on health grounds. The resignation is to take immediate effect!
“CJN Tanko was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006, sworn in on the 8th of January 2007, and became the Chief Justice of Nigeria in acting capacity on 25th January 2019. He became the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council on Wednesday, 24th July 2019.
“Ordinarily, he was scheduled to retire from the Supreme Court on the last day of 2023. Unfortunately, as no man is infallible, ill-health has cut short Chief Justice Tanko’s leadership of the Nigerian Judiciary at this time.
“I am therefore constrained to accept his retirement, albeit with mixed-feelings. Much as one may wish that the Chief Justice of Nigeria Muhammed Tanko is able to fully serve his term in office, it presupposes that he is able to perform the functions of the Office without let, hindrance or any form of disability.
“The instant resignation of Justice Tanko is however envisaged under Section 231(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which contain provisions relating to vacancy and the occupant of the Office of Chief Justice of Nigeria being unable to perform the functions of the Office for any reason.
“Under a constitutional democracy like ours, government powers and responsibilities are clearly allocated and shared among the three tiers; the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The three organs must work harmoniously and optimally in accordance with their respective Constitutional mandates.
“Nigeria’s Judiciary under the leadership of Chief Justice of Nigeria Tanko Muhammed judiciously exercised the Judicial powers of the Federation. His era witnessed several landmark, jurisprudential and policy decisions by the Supreme Court, and by extension other Courts established by the Constitution.
“CJN Tanko dealt firmly with the issue of reckless and indiscriminate grant of ex-parte Orders that was assuming serious dimensions.
“History will be kind to Justice Tanko Muhammed for his modest contributions to Nigeria’s Judiciary, the strengthening of our democracy and national development.
“In line with the custom of decorating Chief Justices of Nigeria with the second highest national honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, (GCON), and upon the advice of the Council of State in that regard, as his Lordship CJN I. Tanko Muhammed is taking a bow from the Supreme Court, I hereby bestow on him the National Honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, (GCON).
“This occasion is an opportune time for me, to, as always, assure the Nigerian Judiciary that this administration is committed to ensuring the independence of the Judiciary and will not do anything nor take any steps to undermine your independence. We shall uphold the Constitutional provisions on the Rule of Law and the principles of Separation of Powers.
“In the circumstances, and as nature abhors a vacuum, I hereby invite Honourable Olukayode Ariwoola JSC, being the next most Senior Justice of the Supreme Court, to come forward to take the Judicial Oath as Chief Justice of Nigeria in an Acting Capacity, pursuant to Section 231(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“I want to admonish the Justices of the Supreme Court to always remain faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and to remain steadfastly committed to the Oath of Allegiance which they all subscribed to, as contained in the 7th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Our Nation is approaching a critical general election in 2023, the Judiciary must not do anything to fail the ordinary people of Nigeria which may make them lose confidence in the Judiciary.
“Thank you and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF JUSTICE OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA
1. Justice Ariwoola was born on 22 August 1954 and he is currently the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court.
2. He was formerly a Justice of the Court of Appeal and was elevated to the Supreme Court bench after having been elevated from the State High Court of Oyo State.
3. Ariwoola started his educational career in his home town Iseyin at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole, in the Iseyin Local government of Oyo State between 1959 and 1967.
4. Before his elevation to the Supreme Court, Ariwoola served as Justice of the Court of Appeal in Kaduna, Enugu, and Lagos divisions.
5. He has attended many International and National conferences and workshops in France, Atlanta Georgia, UK and Dubai, UAE, and he is happily married with children