The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed concern over comments credited to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, wherein he was reported to have dabbled into the internal affairs of the PDP.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the party said “While the PDP has utmost respect for the Institution of the Judiciary and Judicial Officers, our Party rejects any action or utterance by any Judicial Officer, let alone the CJN, that undermines the integrity of the Judiciary.
“By delving into the internal affairs of the PDP at a public event in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Thursday, November 24, 2022 where he was reported to have made reference to the political activities of some PDP governors, which comment is viewed to be encouraging division in our Party, the PDP posits that the CJN’s action is unacceptable and inconsistent with his status as the head of the Judicial arm of government.
“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.
“Irrespective of the circumstance or situation, the CJN is expected to be circumspect at all times and avoid partisan actions and utterances that are likely to erode the institutional integrity of the Judiciary and bring it to disrepute especially as the nation prepares for the 2023 general elections.
“In a Federal Republic such as Nigeria, with a Constitutional Separation of Powers, the Judiciary is entrusted with the responsibility of interpretation of the laws and as such should be seen to be neutral at all times and endeavour to interpret and review the laws in the context of the case and controversy of the parties before it.
“Nigerians expect the CJN, with his experience, to be in a position to advice, rebuke and punish members of the Judicial arm who get entangled in the political arena.
“The fact that the CJN himself is the one reportedly violating this critical ethic of neutrality, fairness and respect for the Oath of Office for Judicial Officers raises serious concern in our polity.
“The question is, how do Nigerians and especially the PDP trust that the CJN will be an even-handed arbiter in any case or matter relating to internal issues in our Party or those connected to other political parties?
“It is instructive to note that the test for a Judge to recuse himself from a matter is the “likelihood of bias” and the CJN is expected to be mindful of that test in his public engagements.”