CLAIM: Some media platforms reported that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, expressed happiness over Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde’s membership of the G5 group within the PDP. However, in a statement signed by the Director of Press and Information in the Supreme Court, Dr. Festus Akande, the CJN denied making such a statement, arguing that he was misquoted and misrepresented by the media.
VERDICT: He was quoted right.
Ariwoola had on Thursday attended a Banquet arranged in his honour, by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesome Wike in Port Harcourt. While speaking at the event, CJN jocularly expressed happiness over Makinde’s membership of the G5 group otherwise known as the “integrity group”.
The statement by the CJN raised eyebrows as some political gladiators, particularly in the People’s Democratic Party, wondered if he was dabbling into partisan politics.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Debo Ologunagba cautioned the CJN against making utterances that could erode the integrity of the judiciary. “Our party is worried that such partisan comment by the CJN is in violation of his Oath of Office as the head of the country’s judicial arm, which is expected to be impartial and non-partisan”, the party stated.
However, the CJN, in the rebuttal released by the Supreme Court’s Directorate of Press and Information, denied ever making such a “partisan” statement. The statement reads partly, “Our attention has been drawn to a publication with the above caption making the rounds in both conventional and social media. We wish to state unequivocally clearly that the CJN, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON had never at any point said such during his brief remarks at the State Banquet organized 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.
“Everyone knows that the CJN, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON, is a judicial officer and not a politician, as such, would never directly or remotely make such comments or innuendoes.
“We wish to set the record straight by making it clear that the CJN and other senior Judicial Officers drawn from different parts of the country were in Port Harcourt on Thursday and Friday, November 24 and 25, 2022 to commission the two buildings to accommodate the Federal Judicial Service Commission’s South-South Liaison Office and the Hon. Justice Mary Peter-Odili Judicial Institute, which was conceptualized and constructed by the Rivers State government.
“Even at the State Banquet organized 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 honor for the Judiciary and Hon. Justice Mary Peter-Odili, CFR, JSC, retd and later go back to Abuja thereafter.
“Similarly, he said he was very surprised to see the ‘G5 Governors’ (Integrity Group Governors), just as he equally expressed the same surprise when he saw them in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the reception organized in his honor by his state government in October 2022.”
Did Ariwoola say he was happy about Makinde’s membership of the group? YES!
According to a recording of the CJN’s full speech, published by Channels Television, the CJN hailed Wike for being a “friend of the Judiciary”. He said the Rivers State Governor had done more for the judiciary than any other governor. He also commended him for having completed many projects across the state. While commending Wike, he jocularly said he was happy his kinsman and Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde was a member of the integrity group, and he would imitate Wike.
His words, “There are projects all over the place. That is why we should not be afraid to have this men of integrity group and I am happy that my governor is one, because he would try to imitate his friend and in-law, because we came here to marry for my governor…”
Here is a link to the video:See video
The G5/Integrity Group
The G5 group comprises five governors of the People’s Democratic Party, who are in a conflict with the leadership of the party, and particularly the party’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar. Apart from Wike and Makinde, other governors in the group are: Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
The governors who have refused to participate in the PDP presidential campaign, claim to be fighting for “Justice and fairness” within the party. They are demanding that the party’s National Chairman, Iyorcha Ayu, steps down from his position.
Earlier this month, the group was christened “Integrity Group” at a meeting in Lagos. The new title was disclosed by Makinde while addressing the media before the meeting.
“We are here this morning to hold a meeting of the Integrity Group within our party, the PDP. We have been of the G5- that is, the five PDP governors. The G5 is all about the Integrity Group,” Makinde was quoted as saying.
Although the CJN did not mention “G5” as specifically quoted by the media, he mentioned “integrity group”, which is an appellation adopted by the G5 governors. So, he was not misquoted by the media, although his comments were on the lighter side.
By: Oluwatobi Odeyinka
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