Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Societies of Nigeria (CCSN) have again marched to the National Assembly in protest against what they described as the seeming partisanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, even as they demanded for his immediate resignation or outright sack.
The coalition called on the National Assembly to institute a probe of the circumstances that led to statements credited to the CJN.
The groups had on Tuesday embarked a a peaceful protest to the National Assembly but were forcefully dispersed by a detachment of anti-riot policemen of the Federal Capital Territory FCT Command of the Nigeria Police.
CJN Ariwoola had run into troubled waters, following a political statement he made at a dinner organised in his honour by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who invited him to commission the Retired Justice Mary Odili’s Auditorium in Port Harcourt last weekend.
He was reported to have said he was glad that Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, was a member of G-5, which is a rebellious group within the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, which had since kicked against the statement.
Speaking at the National Assembly gate on Friday, Convener of Coalition, Ishaku Balogun accused the CJN of dabbling into partisan affairs, saying his utterances in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital while being a guest of Gov. Nyesom Wike, left much to be desired.
He said: “Few days ago, we came out to save our hard fought democracy. The men of the Nigeria Police Force unleashed on us state powers, teargasing peaceful Nigerians who had assembled to voice their disappointment at the partisanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“The CJN had during a commissioning of a project in Rivers State made statements conflicting with the impartiality expected of the Judicial arm of government; known as the last hope of the common man.
“Today, we are emboldened by a common resolve to save Nigeria especially as we approach 2023 general elections.
“As Nigerians, we join our voices with millions of Nigerians who are dissatisfied with the partisan nature the CJN has assumed.
“The Independence of the judiciary can no be deemed satisfactory since the CJN has already taken a side in a political dispute within a political party out of the 18 others who are sponsoring candidates in the 2023 elections.
“We demand for his immediate sack as Nigerians no longer have confidence in his person as an impartial judge. Chief Justice of Nigeria Tajudeen Olukayode Ariwoola’s affinity in political dispute is a mark of interference capable of truncating the good efforts already put in place by the National Assembly.
“The Coalition of Civil Societies of Nigeria has since analysed his statements at the commissioning and came to the conclusion that democracy is indeed in danger.
“How do we explain that the man saddled with the impartial role of dispensing justice is now on the side of a particular group in a political dispute?
“It is unspeakable, flippant, unpardonable and unprofessional for the Chief Justice of Nigeria to openly identify with a side he is affectionately romancing in a sensitive political race that would be decided by Nigerians.
“Governor Makinde and the CJN are brothers and we respect that but to now transfer state affinity to political affinity is an advocacy taken too far.
“As responsible citizens of this country and the voice of the voiceless, we request the National Assembly to cause a public hearing on this political interference by the CJN.
“We shall continue to demand the immediate sack of the CJN especially now that his amorous political intentions and bias are in the public domain.
“He should resign, failing which our coalition will press for all legitimate means through citizens revolt for him to vacate the exalted, impartial and independent office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria”.
The Coalition is made up of 18 CSOs among which are Civil Society Forum of Nigeria, Nigeria Youth Development Forum, Democratic Youth Initiative, Forum for Social Justice, Movement for the Development of Democracy and Safeguard Nigeria Movement.
Others are Alliance for People’s Welfare, Forward Nigeria Movement, Human Right Crusaders, Defenders of Democracy, Democratic Rights Assembly and Voter’s Rights Assembly.