A video now trending online has thrown spanner in the works of the statement by the Supreme Court that Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola (GCON) did not express happiness over membership of the “Integrity Group” by his Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde.
CITY LAWYER recalls that controversy has trailed the alleged comment by Justice Ariwoola that he was glad that Makinde is a member of the break-away group of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors spearheaded by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
A statement by the Director of Information and Press, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Dr Festus Akande had dismissed the allegation as the handiwork of desperate politicians and mischief makers in the run-up to the 2023 General Elections.
According to the statement, “We can’t really pinpoint where such barefaced falsehood is coming from, and certainly, we don’t also know at what point the CJN said he was happy that Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was a member of the now christened “Integrity Group” or “G-5 Governors.”
Continuing, the statement added: “Similarly, he said he was very surprised to see the “G-5 Governors” (“Integrity Group Governors”), just as he equally expressed the same surprise when he saw them in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the reception organised in his honour by his state government in October 2022.
“His surprise particularly stemmed from the fact that he saw his own State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde (who incidentally is a member of the “G-5 Governors”) at the Port Harcourt occasion.”
However, the video obtained by CITY LAWYER shows that while the Chief Justice of Nigeria was clearly speaking jocularly about Makinde’s relationship with Wike, he stated that he was “happy that my own Governor is one (of the G5 Governors.”
His words: “I understand he (Governor Wike) will continue to commission projects till his last day in office. There are projects wide open all over the place.
“And that’s why we should not be scared to have these men of Integrity Group. And I am happy that my own Governor is one because, you know, he will try to imitate his friend and in-law because we came here to marry for my Governor.
“His Excellency, Governor Wike will always threaten that he will call back his sister if my Governor fails to play ball. And that’s why if you see him following His Excellency (laughs), my Governor is afraid of his wife being recalled.”
Meanwhile, a leading criminal trial lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji SAN has also dissociated Justice Ariwoola from the controversial statement, saying that the Chief Justice of Nigeria only joked about the closeness that existed between the Wike and Makinde.
According to Raji who is also the President of Oke-Ogun Development Consultative Forum (ODCF), the umbrella body of indigenes of Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, “I was at the said occasion at Port Harcourt and there was never a time the Chief Justice of the Federation said anything about being in support of the group of PDP five governors, he only made jokes about how the closeness between the Oyo State governor and governor Wike is strong which he attributed to the fact that governor Wike is the in-law of Seyi Makinde.
“For anybody to think the Chief Justice of the Federation will come down to such level as discussing party issues is ridiculous, I enjoin media organizations to please scrutinize information their reporters bring to them to avoid creating crisis and smear the images of people.”
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