The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola has reacted to widespread condemnation over his political comment, saying he would never directly or remotely make political comments or innuendoes.
This is contained in a statement issued by Festus Akande, the Supreme Court Director of Press and Information on Saturday in Abuja.
Mr Akande was reacting to the comments made by Mr Ariwoola on Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo state being a member of G5 governors.
According to media reports, the CJN, had joked, “That is why we should not be scared to have these men of the integrity group and I am happy that my own governor is among because he would try to imitate his friend and in-law because we came here to marry for my governor. So, Governor Wike will always threaten that he will call back his sister if my governor fails to play ball. That is why you see him following his Excellency (Wike) because my governor is afraid of his wife being recalled.”
But the Supreme Court said the CJN never expressed happiness over Mr Makinde being a member of the renegade PDP governors.
“We wish to state unequivocally clear that the CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola never at any point said such during his brief remarks at the State Banquet organised as part of the events lined up for the commissioning of the two Judiciary projects undertaken by the Rivers state government.
“Issues bordering on misconceptions and misrepresentations of this nature are not always strange in times like this when the country is preparing for general elections, as some people may want to take advantage of every opportunity to score very cheap goals.
“As we all know, this is the era of aggressive and even unconventional politicking, so, there’s nothing that will not be heard or seen at this crucial time, especially between now and February 2023, when the general elections will be conducted.
“People say whatever they choose to say, just to please their selfish interests and inordinate desires.
“We can’t really pinpoint where such barefaced falsehood is coming from; and certainly, we don’t also know at what point the CJN said he was happy that Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was a member of the now christened “Integrity Group” or “G-5 Governors.
“We wish to set the record straight by making it clear that the CJN and other senior judicial officers were in Port Harcourt to commission the two buildings that accommodate the Federal Judicial Service Commission’s South-South Liaison Office and Justice Mary Peter-Odili Judicial Institute, that were conceptualised and constructed by the Rivers Government.
“Even at the State Banquet organised as part of the events, the CJN made it clear in his brief remarks, that he (CJN) was not in Port Harcourt for the State Banquet but simply to commission the two projects as a mark of honour for the Judiciary and Mary Odili.
“Similarly, he said he was very surprised to see the “G-5 Governors” (“Integrity Group Governors”), just as he equally expressed the same surprise when he saw them in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the reception organised in his honour by his state government in October, 2022.”
He said the CJN’s surprise particularly stemmed from the fact that he saw his own state governor, Makinde who incidentally is a member of the “G-5 Governors” at the Port Harcourt’s occasion.
He equally stated jocularly that being that Mr Makinde married from Rivers State and is equally very close to Gov. Nyesom Wike, he would be able to replicate the developmental strides of the latter in Oyo State for the good of the citizens.
“This, of course, is a comment that, ordinarily, ought to elicit applause and not myopic misrepresentations, as governance is all about positive comparisons and healthy competitions.
“Anyone or group of individuals making these unconscionable assumptions and pervading the misinformation are by implication, creating the impression that it is now a crime for the CJN to have come from Oyo state, which coincidentally, has a member of the group, Makinde, as the governor.
“Let it be noted that anything said, assumed, presumed, reported or placed in the public domain outside the above facts, is simply a mere figment of the imagination of such authors and don’t in anyway represent what the CJN said in Port Harcourt, as we are not ready to join issues with such purveyors of misinformation,” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the group emerged after the PDP presidential primary where Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, defeated Mr Wike and other aspirants in the race to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate.