Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS) has interrogated Chief Justice Olukayode Ariwoola over his alleged partisanship and closeness to some politicians.
According to Peoples Gazette, top officials in both the Supreme Court and the DSS (also known as State Security Service) disclosed that at least five judges have asked Ariwoola to resign for commending Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde for being part of ‘Integrity Group’, a group of five governors in the Peoples Democratic Party who have been at loggerheads with the leadership and Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of their party.
Formerly called G5, the Integrity Group is led by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
The aggrieved governors are calling for leadership change in the PDP and have since pulled out of the presidential campaign of the party to press home their demand.
They are Wike (Rivers), Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Speaking during a banquet held in his honour by Wike, in Port Harcourt in November, the CJN, who hails from Oyo, said his host (Governor Wike) was threatening to withdraw Makinde’s wife, who is from Rivers, expressing hope that Makinde would emulate Wike to replicate the good works in his state.
He said, “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 them 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.”
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Some civil society organisations under the aegis of the Coalition of Civil Societies of Nigeria (CCSN) also recently held a protest demanding the removal of Ariwoola over his comments, described as partisan.
A DSS source privy to the matter told The Gazette that Mr Ariwoola was grilled and asked to resign “because it (the partisan political grandstanding) might get dirty for him”.
The source, however, told the newspaper that Ariwoola “refused to step down.” Similarly, a top official at the Supreme Court said that five jurists expressed their displeasure at Ariwoola’s conduct and also asked him to resign.
It was learnt that should Ariwoola fail to yield to the pressure on him to resign, the justices threatened to write a letter, urging him to resign in the same manner they accused his predecessor Ibrahim Tanko of being corrupt and irresponsible before successfully ousting him from office.
“Even as a joke, it was an expensive one that should have cost him his office,” a Supreme Court official said under the condition of anonymity. “So other judges will know the office is not for comedians but for people who are serious.”
“We already have information that Wike has been bribing judges, so they will make an example of him. So other judges will be careful of getting involved in political activities,” the Supreme Court source told the news medium.
The spokespersons for the Supreme Court and the DSS refused to comment on the issue.