By Ise-Oluwa Ige, ABUJA
Barring any last minute change, the National Judicial Council (NJC) is set to recommend 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.
Reliable sources at the NJC told Vanguard on Monday 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.
His likely successor, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola who may likely 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.