From Godwin Tsa,  Abuja

Barely four months to his retirement, the Civil Society Consortium on Judicial Accountability (CSCJA), has called for the immediate resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, over alleged abuse of office and favouritism in the discharge of his duties.

At a peaceful protest in Abuja, the group made up of public interest lawyers expressed anger with the CJN over the appointment of his biological children as judicial officers in the recent appointments.

Leader of the group, Martin Obono, accused the CJN of appointing his son, Olukayode Ariwoola Junior, as a Judge of the Federal High Court and his daughter, Oluwakemi Victoria Ariwoola as a Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In addition, the group alleged that the CJN conferred undue advantages on his family by using the National Judicial Council, NJC, of which he is the chairman to recommend the two children as High Court Judges and for also using the Federal Judicial Service Commission to get their appointments approved at the detriment of some qualities.

The group members carried placards with various inscriptions amongst which were, “the CJN should resign now, stop judicial rascality, say no to nepotism, judicial accountability is a must.”

Obono, who disclosed that the group has delivered a letter to the CJN demanding his resignation, further demanded that the office of the CJN be unbundled to avoid being further abused.

The CJN’s appointments have raised serious concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary. More importantly, the violation of Rule 11 (iv) of the Code of Conducts for Judicial Officers in Nigeria which states that “in the exercise of his administrative duties, a Judicial Officer should avoid nepotism and favouritism.”

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The Consortium emphasized that the legal system must uphold the highest ethical standards to ensure that all citizens receive fair and equitable treatment under the law. Nepotism in judicial appointments not only violates principles but also threatens to weaken the rule of law in Nigeria,” he said.

Consequently, the protesters urged the CJN to take immediate responsibility for his actions and resign from his position, adding that the step is necessary to restore public confidence in the judiciary and demonstrate a commitment to ethical governance.

It is imperative that the judiciary remains free from personal bias and favouritism to safeguard the principles of justice.”

Meanwhile, the group also called for an independent inquiry into the allegations of nepotism and favouritism.

“We therefore request that: An independent inquiry into the appointment of Olukayode Ariwoola Jr. and nomination of Oluwakemi Victoria Ariwoola be conducted to determine whether there were other suitably qualified persons nominated.

“In line with the age-old judicial maxim nemo judex in causa sua, that Justice Olukayode Ariwoola be asked to recuse himself as Chairman of the National Judicial Council pending the determination of the investigation.

“That the investigation be conducted and concluded within the shortest possible time and the results of the investigation be made available to the Petitioners and the Public.

“That if Justice Olukayode Ariwoola is found to have breached the Code of Conduct, appropriate disciplinary measures be meted against him.”