Nepotism Has Killed And Buried Nigerian Judiciary: HURIWA Alleges;

Nepotism Has Killed And Buried Nigerian Judiciary: HURIWA Alleges;

“At no time in the illustrious history of the Nigerian judiciary, has it occurred, so scandalously and so shamelessly, that the heads of the divisions of the court system in Nigeria has applied nepotistic yardstick as the qualification for picking lawyers to become members of the bench as judges”.

“Similarly, the distribution of the title of senior Advocates of Nigeria has become a family affair because in the last few years, senior members of the Nigerian Bar who are senior advocates of Nigeria, whose spouses and biological children are lawyers, have been in a mad rush to enlist their wives and children as senior advocates of Nigeria. This is disgraceful and totally unacceptable.” 

HURIWA argues that like the global best practices dictate, only merits and competencies are and should become once again, the only qualifying requirements for those who would be elevated to the position of judges and those to wear the prestigious titles of Senior Advocates of Nigeria. The danger in allowing the decline in observance of merits and competencies as the only yardstick for such appointments to continue, is that the quality of justice delivery will be seriously impeded since those not naturally qualified are aided to occupy the front seats in the courts of the Federation.

With the above summation, civil rights advocacy group: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has decried the reported appointments as judges of the Federal Capital Territory High Court and the federal High Court by the Chief judge of Abuja and the chief justice of Nigeria, of their daughter and son as judges of the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court, respectively.

The Rights group said it is shocked that those who are the supposed custodians of the temple of justice have decided to embrace nepotism as their only yardstick for elevating their children to the esteemed offices of judges which offends the law of natural justice and is a violation of the oaths of offices administered on the Chief justice of Nigeria and the Chief judge of the FCT who with these reported appointments of their biological children have allowed clear conflicts of interests to mar their sense of judgment and blinded their capacity to discharge their primary obligation to their callings as leaders in the justice sector.

Quoting a media publication, the Rights group alleged that the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court Husseini Baba-Yusuf is on the brink of seating his daughter as one of the newest judges in the system, as Peoples Gazette found out, meshing contentiously with Chief Justice Kayode Ariwoola and other members of the legal elite who have turned the judiciary into premium job racket for family members.

Besides, the Rights group is worried by the media report that has remained uncontradicted by the hierarchy of the FCT High court, that reported thus: “As with the case of Oluwakemi Victoria Ariwoola, earlier reported by The Gazette, the nomination of Maryam Baba-Yusuf also necessarily involved stunting the career progression of other magistrates from everyday households in at least four states, our findings showed. It was unclear why Mr Baba-Yusuf prioritised his daughter as the third judge from Kogi on the FCT High Court when Abia, Imo, Bayelsa and Ebonyi each has no single judge on the court and the Nigerian federal character policy codified in Chapter Two of the Constitution required staffing the 70-person bench equitably among citizens from the 36 states and the capital Abuja.”

HURIWA which cited media reports lamented that the FCT chief judge Mr Baba-Yusuf has also accepted Munira Ibrahim Tanko, a junior magistrate and daughter of erstwhile Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, as a candidate from Bauchi, a state that already has Babangida Hasan on the court. Similarly, Kogi already has Eleojo Enenche and the chief judge himself, while Oyo, which Oluwakemi Ariwoola represents, has Mohammed Alhaji Madugu and Ajoke Adepoju. His decision, if allowed to stand, would give Kogi and Oyo three judges each, while Bauchi would have two.

HURIWA lamented that it is regrettable that rather than give the highest consideration to the federal character principle as enshrined in the constitution prioritising ethnic and geopolitical balance in appointments, the FCT chief judge Yusuf-Baba, has instead allegedly appeared bent on foisting a lopsided goal of allocating vacant seats to rookie officers from influential families, even while passing over senior magistrates from states not already represented on the court. His conduct has already set off ructions among judges and clerks, including those who were hitherto grunted by his leadership of the court, The Gazette reported.

On 15th December 2023, it was also reported that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, has appointed his younger brother, Adebayo Ariwoola, as the new auditor for the National Judicial Council (NJC), Peoples Gazette can report based on confirmations obtained last week.

The report stated that the appointment places the younger Mr Ariwoola in a key position overseeing the internal audit unit of the NJC, a role with substantial authority to ensure financial integrity and responsibility within the commission. He is now responsible for evaluating the commission’s internal controls, scrutinising accounting processes, and ensuring compliance with legal standards.

The Rights group observed that the media report rightly pointed to the obvious fact that the CJN, Justice Ariwoola, who holds a position of near supreme authority with vast powers within the judiciary, now has a direct family link to the head of a crucial oversight unit—arguably the only unit capable of exercising independence and effectively checking and balancing any excesses within the CJN’s domain.

Olukayode Ariwola  Jr the son of the CJN was one of the 23 newly appointed judges of the fifth sworn in on October 4th 2023. His appointment, which received widespread controversy was announced in a statement by the director of information at the NLC, Soji Oye.

HURIWA in the media statement by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko the National Coordinator, condemned the notorious silence of the National Assembly to these untoward development in the nation’s judiciary even when the constitution has clothed the National legislature with the powers of providing checks and balances in the other two tiers of government of judiciary and executive Arms. The Rights group has therefore called on Nigerians to consistently denounce these acts of nepotism in the judiciary and speak out in total Condemnation of same because these atrocious malpractices have the capacity to sabotage constitutional democracy because if litigants lose faith and confidence in the judiciary, then the resort to self help measures may become attractive to Nigerians.

Press statement dated on 13th February 2024.

By Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *