Just weeks to the 2019 general elections, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, was removed from office over corruption allegations he was later convicted for.

Now, three months to the 2023 general elections, the current CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola, is sweating because some Nigerians are asking him to step down from office. But it has nothing to do with corruption this time.

What did the CJN do?

While speaking at a state banquet hosted in his honour by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, on November 24, 2022, the CJN praised the Integrity Group of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) known as the G5

He said, “I’m happy my own governor is among them because he’ll try to imitate his friend and in-law (Wike).”

For context, the CJN is from Oyo State and the governor he’s referring to is his state governor, Seyi Makinde.

How are Nigerians reacting?

The PDP already has enough on its plate especially with the G5’s troublemaking. Evidently, the party is pouring out its frustrations on Ariwoola. The party issued a strongly worded statement and warned the CJN to stop undermining the integrity of the judiciary. The PDP said his action is unacceptable and basically told him to keep shut about politics.

The Supreme Court tried to control the damage by claiming the CJN didn’t say what everyone saw in the video and was only making a joke during other remarks. We saw that video, and the CJN is definitely not Basketmouth.

Why does this matter?

The PDP seems to be the only ones up in arms about the CJN’s remarks. The party’s concern is understandable because the CJN isn’t expected to hold partisan views for obvious reasons.

The results of presidential elections usually end up at the Supreme Court for final judgement. The PDP doesn’t want to face a biased referee. Although the PDP’s demand for the CJN’s resignation is a pipe dream, this episode will be revisited if the result of the 2023 presidential election ends up on his table. 

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