THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, for publicly supporting Oyo State Governor ‘Seyi Makinde’s membership of the G5 Governors, now known as the Integrity Group.
In a statement released by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Saturday, November 26, the party said the CJN’s attitude showed he is partisan, adding that the act could worsen the party’s internal crisis.
The ICIR reports that while lauding the presence of the Integrity Group in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, during the gala night and inauguration of judiciary projects on Thursday, November 24, the CJN had expressed delight with Makinde’s membership of the PDP’s break-away faction, led by River State Governor Nyesom Wike.
The five governors lead the group of aggrieved members of the PDP who want the party’s chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to step down because he is from the North, where the party’s presidential flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar, hails from.
Wike had contested the presidential ticket against Atiku and lost. Wike’s allies believe the presidency should return to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office on May 29, 2023, but Atiku’s victory at the primary defeated the plan.
The Rivers governor’s group has since vowed that the only condition that would guarantee their support for former Vice President is for Ayu to resign. But the former Senate President has said repeatedly that he would not quit.
In its statement on Saturday, PDP said the CJN’s comment violates his Oath of Office as the head of the country’s Judicial arm, “which is expected to be impartial and non-partisan”.
“Irrespective of the circumstance or situation, the CJN is expected to be circumspect at all times and avoid partisan actions and utterances that are likely to erode the institutional integrity of the judiciary and bring it to disrepute, especially as the nation prepares for the 2023 general elections.”
The party explained that given the nation’s Constitution that spells out the roles of each of the three arms of a democratic government, the judiciary’s responsibility is to interpret the laws and should be neutral at all times.
“Nigerians expect the CJN, with his experience, to be in a position to advise, rebuke and punish members of the judicial arm who get entangled in the political arena.
“The fact that the CJN himself is the one reportedly violating this critical ethic of neutrality, fairness and respect for the Oath of Office for judicial officers raises serious concern in our polity.”
The party said the CJN’s posture threatened the judiciary’s impartiality in handling the PDP’s internal crisis when they are brought to the court and the party’s litigations against opposition parties.
Ariwoola is from Oyo State and has enjoyed a smooth relationship with Makinde. The governor was present when the CJN took his oath of office on October 12 in Abuja.
The CJN alluded to the smooth relationship in Port Harcourt on Thursday when he said the governor held a lavish reception for him after taking the oath of office.