Three Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) on Monday lauded the appointment of Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), saying it is ordained by God.
The senior lawyers, Mr Yomi Alliyu (SAN); Mr Richard Ogunwole (SAN); Mr Oluseun Abimbola (SAN) and Mr Isaac Ogbah, a former Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA),
Ota branch in Ogun, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Ibadan.
They were reacting to the appointment of Ariwoola as the acting CJN, following the resignation of Tanko Muhammed as the CJN on the grounds of ill-health.
Ariwoola, who is the most senior and next to the former CJN, was appointed and took the Oath of Office as the acting CJN at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari had administered the Oath of Office to Ariwoola during a swearing-in ceremony held at the Council Chamber.
Alliyu said: “For the second time in half a decade, we have Justices from the private Bar becoming Chief Justices of Nigeria. The last being My Lord Justice Onnoghen.
“For many years, from the time of My Lord Justice Mariam Mukhtar, Justice Kayode Ariwoola, popularly called ‘Ariwoooo’ by the Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has been the Power House of the Supreme Court in terms of following the principle of stare decisis to letter and sound principles of law for the good of the society.
“He led the Supreme Court and in fact, wrote the leading judgment; in dismantling the hitherto finality of the judgment of the National Industrial Court, surreptitiously put in the Constitution by the erstwhile powerful president of that court.
“My Lord, Justice Ariwoola is expected to bring to an end over populating the Supreme Court with judges who never had appellate practice, but rather, rose from Magistrate Courts, thereby leading to public service judgments.
“The first task before him is to bring experienced private practice practitioners to the Supreme Court bench to allow for cross fertilisation of ideas.
“And anti-establishment judgments, as done in the time of Justices Elias, Eso, Oputa and Nnamani of the golden age of the Supreme Court.”
He said that from Ariwoola’s years of practice, in both the public and private Bars, “my Lord is expected to look closely at the operations of the apex court, with a view to bringing it in tandem with the modern day apex Court as obtainable in other climes.”
According to him, there is no reason why cases should spend close to eight to 15 years before being heard.
Alliyu said: “I have a land matter, which briefs have been filed since 2008 still pending at the Supreme Court.
“In that wise, the rules of the Court must change. Briefs should be enough to decide appeals.
“After all, 95 per cent of the appeals are argued within five minutes of identifying the briefs by simply saying, ‘I adopt and rely on my brief’.
“Cases going to Supreme Court can also be limited to those without concurrent findings by the High Court and Court of Appeal.
“Justices of the Courts could also be divided into divisions like commercial, land, constitutional, labour, criminal and human rights with five justices manning each of the divisions.
“This will necessitate appointment of justices and conversion of some offices, which are utterly underutilised into courts, if new courts cannot be built on the large expanse of land left undeveloped for years at the Court.”
He, however, wished Ariwoola “a successful tenure, free from rancour and blackmail”.
In his reactions, Ogunwole said that Ariwoola was selected by God and not by any person.
“Ariwoola is the next person and right person selected by God to be the Chief Justice of Nigeria; his appointment is from Heaven,” he said.
Ogunwole described Ariwoola as a brilliant and a complete gentleman.
He said that the acting CJN brought Laurel to Oyo State Ministry of Justice before his appointment as a judge in the state and subsequent elevation to Court of Appeal and Supreme court.
The lawyer described Ariwoola’s appointment as a right peg in a right hole that would bring progress and enjoyment to the judiciary and Nigeria in general.
Commenting, Abimbola described Ariwoola’s appointment as “a thing of great joy and honour for the country’s judiciary, because he is a man of impeccable character”.
He said that his leading would bring more advantages and reforms to the judiciary, because “he is abreast of all areas of the judiciary that requires reforms”.
According to him, over the years, when since he was a Judge in Oyo State High Court, Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court, he consistently demonstrated a keen knowledge of the law.
“He demonstrated a quality character and integrity, which is lacking in our nation; so, this his attribute will add a lot of strength to the judiciary.
“NBA will surely gain a lot from such a man at the helm of judiciary affairs. I wish him more wisdom, knowledge and good health as he assumes the new office,” Abimbola said.
Also, Ogbah said the new CJN’s appointment was timely and divine.
“His appointment is divine, especially now that about 14 justices wrote a petition against Tanko Muhammad; what transpired among the judges has never happened in our history.
“So, it’s God that has put him in the position; he should unite the judiciary, let the court always be one that will make landmark judgments.
“Judgments where people will have great confidence in the judiciary.
“As election year is approaching, we need a united Supreme Court that will stand by the law; one that will deliver judgments and no one will doubt or deliberate again,” he said. (NAN)