WeetalknaijaBlog reports that President Muhammadu Buhari will swear in a new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) following the resignation of Tanko Muhammad who has been holding the office since 2019.
A former presidential aide, Bashir Ahmad, confirmed the planned swearing-in of the new CJN in a tweet on Monday.
- Meet Supreme Court Judge Set To Replace Tanko Muhammad As CJN
- BREAKING!!!! Tanko Muhammad Resigns As CJN
- BREAKING!!! President Buhari Appoints New Chief Justice Of Nigeria
WeetalknaijaBlog earlier reported that Tanko Muhammad resigned on health grounds and that the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Olukayode Ariwoola, was expected to be sworn in to replace him.
“Justice Olukayode Ariwoola to be sworn-in as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by President Muhammadu Buhari today,” Mr Ahmad’s tweet read.
Mr Ariwoola would be appointed in an acting capacity pending when the process of his substantive appointment which includes a recommendation by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and confirmation by the President subject to the screening by the Senate would be concluded.
WeetalknaijaBlog gathered that Mr Ariwoola was born on August 22, 1958.
Mr Ariwoola’s profile on the Supreme Court’s website indicates that he was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2011.
The jurist, who hails from Iseyin in Oyo State, had earlier before his appointment to the highest bench of the land served as a Justice of the Court of Appeal between 2005 and 2011.
Before his elevation to the Court of Appeal bench in 2011, he served as a judge of the High Court of Oyo State, a position he was appointed to in 1992 from private legal practice.
Mr Ariwoola started his education in his home town Iseyin at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole in Iseyin Local government of Oyo State between 1959 and 1967.
He was in the Muslim Modern School in the same town between 1968 and 1969 before proceeding to Ansar-Ud-Deen High School, Saki in Oyo North of Oyo State.
He studied law at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife, Osun State, and bagged his bachelor of laws degree with honours in July 1980.
He was called to the Nigeria bar and got enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Solicitor and Advocate soon thereafter.
Tanko Muhammad’s Exit
The resignation by Mr Muhammad, 68, comes about 18 months ahead of his official retirement in December 2023, when he will clock 70.
The nature of his health condition compelling him to resign is not known. But there have been media speculations about his ill health since coming to office in 2019.
He has denied a series of media reports concerning his ill health.
His abrupt exit confirming his ill health comes amid a raging crisis in the Supreme Court following allegations by his 14 colleagues on the Supreme Court bench that he is hampering the operations of the court by failing to fund judges’ welfare as well as fuel generators, among other essential services.
A leaked memo by the 14 Justices of the Supreme Court protesting Mr Muhammad’s handling of the operations of the court surfaced online last week.
Such letter leaking to the public is unprecedented in the history of the Nigerian Supreme Court.
Mr Muhammad is leaving behind the issues enumerated in the letter by the Justices of the Supreme Court unresolved.
He is the second CJN in a row to abruptly exit office since 2020.
Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen
His predecessor, Walter Onnoghen, was controversially suspended by President Muhammad Buhari in January 2019, and never returned to office until he was convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over charges of breach of codes of conduct for public officers in April 2019.
The President would later recognise Mr Onnoghen’s voluntary resignation instead of the order of his removal from office by the CCT.
Mr Onnoghen’s exit from office in January 2019 came almost two years before he was due for retirement in December 2020.
Mr Muhammad, who was appointed to succeed Mr Onnoghen, is also leaving office 18 months ahead of his official retirement age on December 31, 2023.