A group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and campaigners have raised concerns about the state of Nigeria’s Judiciary under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola GCON.

In a joint letter addressed to the CJN, dated March 28, 2024, the CSOs expressed their disappointment with the lack of effective reform and the increasing damage to the Judiciary’s reputation due to alleged misuse of authority and poor leadership.

The groups noted that since the CJN’s appointment, the Judiciary has failed to improve its public perception and has instead steadily deteriorated. They highlighted several areas where the CJN’s leadership has worsened the situation, including the reabsorption of dismissed or compulsorily retired judges, turning a blind eye to issues of judicial integrity, and allegations of nepotism and illicit influence peddling.

The CSOs pointed out that the reinstatement of two judges, Justice Gladys Olotu and Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, who were removed for serious misconduct, demonstrates the National Judicial Council’s (NJC) lack of commitment to the Judiciary’s reputation. They also criticized the CJN’s unresponsiveness to allegations bordering on judicial integrity and unethical conduct, citing instances where their petitions were not acknowledged or acted upon.

The groups further highlighted mounting allegations of nepotism and undue influence in judicial appointments against the CJN, which have fueled public cynicism and distrust in the Judiciary. They mentioned reports claiming that the CJN improperly used his influence to promote appointments of family members into judicial and administrative positions.

Another concern raised by the CSOs was the allegation made by retiring Justice Dattijo Muhammed, who claimed that the CJN deliberately delayed appointing Supreme Court Justices despite the court’s overbearing docket, implying an ulterior motive.

The CSOs and campaigners emphasized that these allegations have had a profound negative impact on the public perception of Nigeria’s Judiciary, both domestically and internationally. They argue that the CJN’s actions have further damaged the Judiciary’s image, and urgent action is needed to pull the institution from the brink of total perdition.

The groups called for a declaration of a state of emergency in the Judiciary and stressed the need for transparent and merit-based judicial selection decisions. They urged the CJN to take immediate steps to overhaul the entire judicial system and restore public trust in the institution.

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