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Supreme Court Chief Justice, Olukayode Ariwoola, To Retire Soon, Paving Way For Nigeria’s Second Female Chief Justice In History

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, will soon retire once he attains the mandatory retirement age of 70 later in the year. The chief justice of the federation is the highest judicial officer in the land

Born on August 22, 1954, Ariwoola was appointed Acting CJN on June 27, 2022, by former President Muhammadu Buhari. It followed the resignation of Justice Tanko Muhammad. Ariwoola was later confirmed substantive CJN by the Nigerian Senate on September 21, 2022.

A CJN according to the Nigerian Constitution may only be removed from office either by death or on reaching the age of 70.

Tenure Marked With Controversy

However, Ariwoola’s tenure has not been without hiccups. Some stakeholders in the judiciary especially civil society organisations (CSOs), contend he avoided confronting a number of serious allegations against him. Some of those bordered on his reluctance to reform the institution, and misuse of authority, among others.

For example, at the time Justice Dattijo Muhammed (Rtd) was retiring on October 27, 2023, he made a valedictory speech. In it he accused the CJN of deliberately stalling appointment of new justices for some unspecified ulterior motives. He said that delay affected the court’s capacity to discharge its cases effectively and timeously.

Ariwoola was also alleged to have aided President Bola Tinubu to retain victory after the conduct of the 2023 election was heavily challenged by his fellow contenders. Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar both of the opposition parties were in court for 8 months with the president. Ariwoola vehemently reject the allegation.

Add that to the self-confession of Senator Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa of influencing his wife, Zainab – the Appeal’s Court President then, in helping his political friends with their cases in court. These accusations further tarnished public perception of Nigeria’s judiciary, both domestically and internationally.

Second Female CJN Likely

The current lineup of Supreme Court justices in terms of seniority are as follows: Olukayode Ariwoola, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, John Inyang Okoro, Uwani Musa Abba Aji, Lawal Garba, Helen Ogunwumiju, Ibrahim Musa Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Tijjani Abubakar, and Emmanuel Agim.

When Ariwoola finally retires, the mantle will fall to Lady Justice Kekere-Ekun as constitutionally required. If she succeeds Ariwoola, she will be Nigeria’s second female Chief Justice after Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar (Rtd) who retired in 2014.

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Iheanacho Achugbu
Iheanacho Achugbuhttps://joliba.com.ng
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