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Buhari Swears In Justice Olukayode Ariwoola As Acting CJN

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President Muhammadu Buhari has sworn-in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

President Buhari administered the oath of office to Justice Ariwoola during a swearing-in ceremony held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Ariwoola, 62, takes over from the outgone 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.

Meanwhile, the people of Iseyin, in Iseyin local government, the hometown of the next Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola have been jubilating over the elevation of the new CJN.

The Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Dr. Abdul-Ganiy Salawudeen Adekunle Oloogunebi Ajinese 1, while speaking with reporters at Ibadan, congratulated the new CJN, attributing the elevation to years of toil, dedication and brilliant legal sojourn by Justice Ariwoola.

The monarch said the achievement would go into the history of the ancient town that one of its sons has made a remarkable accomplishment in the legal and judiciary system during his reign as the Aseyin of Iseyin.

“Today, I am so happy about this development of the elevation of Justice Olukayode Ariwoola to the esteemed, apex position in the judiciary, which is the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), he has made history as the first son of Oyo State, Oke-Ogun and Iseyin to attain this feat.

The Iseyin Development Union (I.D.U) in a statement, signed by its National President, Alhaji Bayo Raji on Monday afternoon, said the body, which represents the interest and aspirations of the people of the community was proud and happy about the new CJN’s achievement as it would serve as a veritable point of reference to guide future leaders.

Read the full statement by President Muhammadu Buhari below;

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.

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