By Ori Martins
Nigeria is such an absurd enclave that absurdities have contrived and taken the place of normalcies.
In the current disposition, nothing dramatizes the caricature and most commentators now add contraption called Nigeria than the highly irritating controversies and contradictions that stuffed the chequared past of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola who ascended the exalted plains of the country’s judiciary following the forced resignation of the immediate past chief jurist Tanko Muhammed.
To be sure, an apparently searching and relevant glimpse into his resume will unlock an intimidating record of a well trained and roundly nurtured bencher. At least, he is from the same political zone where the first Nigerian lawyer, Sampra Williams hailed. Of course, all of Teslim Elias, Nigeria’s first chief judge, Richard Akinjide of 1979 2/3 majority of 19 states fame, the irrepressible human rights activist, not forgetting the Hague International World Court guru, Prince Bola Ajibola, Gani Fawehenmi, the election case expert, Wole Olanipekun and even the Great Rotimi Williams and many others who contributed immensely to the growth and development of the country’s judicial system, especially its “legalise” as well as jurisprudence were of Yoruba extraction.
The controversial and contradictory trajectory of Ariwoola is primitively horrendous and horrific when denominated on his outings as a judge of the country’s supreme court. Surely, most Nigerians who are not yet a victim of the malady General Odumegwuu Ojukwu described in his BECAUSE I AM INVOLVED book as selective amnesia, can easily remember now that this acting CJN had a hand in the controversial January 14, 2020 supreme court judgement that ruthlessly sacked then Imo State governor, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha and installed Senator Hope Uzodimma. That judgement and its subsequent installation of Uzodimma as governor is at the root cause of virtually all the misfortunes bedeviling Imo State ever since.
Afterwards, the PDP and Ihedioha went back to supreme court and asked the justices to review its January 14 judgement as they claimed that it was established that there were more than 100, 000 over voting in the disputed 388 polling units. Again, Ariwoola was among the judges that said the highest court in the land couldn’t reverse itself and on that grounds, the review appeal lacked merit.
That judgement ought to have served as reference point to all other cases pertaining to reviewing or reversing any case at the hallowed throne of Nigeria’s supreme. Sadly, it never was and will be never be!!!
In a manner that defied legal explanation other than personal or group interest, a plea for reversal, like the famed phoenix, variegated and bearing hydra headed complications but standing simply, came knocking once more at the doorsteps of the supreme court justices. It was the much discussed, historically documented and well celebrated case of GTBank against INNOSON Motors Nigeria LTD. It was purely a case of dog eating its vomit. It was a bait put forward against the apex court by an unseen gods and other elemental forces. The snare was never dislodged without harvesting a gem!
Shockingly, the supreme court that stood down PDP and Ihedioha’s reversal appeal, acrobatically reserved itself. In January this year, the supreme court reversed its earlier dismissal of an appeal by GTBank against N2.4b judgement given to INNOSON Motors Nig Ltd by the court of appeal in Ibadan, Oyo State.
In a judgement delivered by a five man panel and headed by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the apex court held unanimously that the supreme court erred and must reverse itself on the ruling of the February 27, 2019. The five justices upheld that the Registrar misled the who failed to promptly bring to the notice of the panel that sat on the case that GTB had already filed its applicant’s brief of argument. They justices said they relied their judgement on Order 8 Rule 6 of the supreme court.
What a joke? What a country? What a law – two different rulings on the same reversal plea: the first failed, the second went through. Can you now see the controversial metamorphosis of Ariwoola? His penchant for contradictory judicial pyrotechnics is really truly awesome even philosophical entrenched.
The acting CJN can still prove his critics wrong by toeing the path of honour and integrity. He has all it takes to instill professionalism, orderliness as well as restore the people’s confidence in the apex court. Anything short of this, Ariwoola will only end up coming the fear of citizenry that he is consistently inconsistent.