By Kenneth Atavti
Last minute change, the National Judicial Council (NJC) yesterday, recommended Justice Kayode Ariwoola to President Muhammadu Buhari as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) following the resignation of the incumbent, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
NJC is a creation of section 153 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) with powers to hire and fire erring judicial officers in the country.
A source at the NJC, yesterday, told Nigerian pilot that the mantle of leadership has fallen on Justice Ariwoola in line with the age-long tradition in the bench.
The tradition, it was learnt, is that where an incumbent head of court vacates office either by reason of death, retirement, resignation or sack, the next most senior judicial officer in the court takes over.
Justice Ariwoola is the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court after the incumbent, Justice Tanko who just resigned his office.
Justice Tanko is the second Chief Justice of Nigeria to have resigned his appointment in the last four years.
Justice Tanko took over from Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen who also bowed out of the bench before he clocked the mandatory retirement age of 70 years under controversial circumstances
Justice Tanko was born in December 1953.
But for his resignation, he was supposed to steer the ship of the apex court till December 2023.
He was supposed to be the judicial officer that would have sworn in the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2023.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola who succeed him if nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari and confirmed by the Senate, was born on 22 August 1958.
He was formerly a Justice of the Nigerian courts of appeal and on November 22, 2011, he was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Justice, sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The ascension of the Iseyin born justice into the prestigious position comes after the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili
At the valedictory session was held a month ago, in honor of former Rivers Governor Peter Odili’s wife, Odili will turn 70 on May 12, 2022 when Justice Ariwoola became the number two man at the bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Ariwoola, a graduate of Nigeria’s elite Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, is the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s second-in-command, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.
Ariwoola, a Nigerian jurist and Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, was born on August 22, 1958.
He was previously a Justice of the Nigerian Courts of Appeal, and on November 22, 2011, the Chief Justice of Nigeria swore him in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.