HURIWA Berates CJN for Threatening Critics
By Ed Malik, A /
posted February 11, 2023

Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has come very hard on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, accusing him of attempting to intimidate, verbally harass, threaten, or shut Nigerians up from giving their constitutionally protected opinion on how badly the Justice system in Nigeria is being piloted by the CJN and the members of the current hierarchy of the judicial system.

HURIWA lambasted the CJN’s silence in the face of cocktails of illegality, which it says it’s akin to tolerating and giving vent to the reign of anarchy when courage is in short supply from him.

“The CJN should not do anything or say anything that will graphically present him as a dictator who seeks to control what Nigerians would say or their opinions about the judiciary in Nigeria. The Chief Justice OF Nigeria needs to provide leadership that would attract public acclaim and not tries to deploy fallacies and conjectures to try to silence Nigerians who are thoroughly displeased with the distorted and incredibly ridiculous judgments coming especially from the Supreme court of Nigeria including the latest kangaroo verdict which handed over the candidacy of the Senate in Yobe state to the ethically challenged Senate President Ahmed Lawan who did not buy from or run for the position at the lawfully recognized Party primary of the All Progressives Congress thereby denying the lawful winner of his constitutional right.”

HURIWA said: “Why is the CJN behaving like an erratic market trader exchanging words with critics? Why should he not accept criticisms whether good, bad, toxic, or irregular since he is holding a public position of trust and earning salaries through the contributions of the taxpayers? Why is the CJN wanting us to see him and the judges in the courts as deities when they are just as frail and fickle as anyone of us and since they are imperfect, they are open to making mistakes as human beings? Let it be made known that we are all equal citizens of Nigeria and Citizens are entitled to their opinions no matter how jaundiced or hurtful. Does the CJN expect Nigerians to clap for the justices of the Supreme court of Nigeria where they derail from the cause of justice so notoriously?”

HURIWA reminds the honorable CJN that Nigerians are entitled to all the constitutionally protected fundamental rights enshrined in chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended including section 39(1) which states that: ” Every person SHALL be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information, without interference”

Besides, chapter two of the constitution in section 14(2) (A) provides that “Sovereignty belongs to the People of Nigeria from whom governments through this constitution derive all its powers and authority”. Section 14(2) (C) States that “the participation by the people in their government SHALL be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

HURIWA reminds the Chief Justice of Nigeria that Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and not a dictatorship whereby the rights of the citizens are abridged and abused with impunity and so he should be more open to criticisms and provide good governance because when the head is not rotten the entire body will be robustly well.”

HURIWA recalled that CJN Justice Ariwoola has said the Supreme Court’s silence on attacks on its judicial officers must not be mistaken for weakness or cowardice.
The CJN gave the warning in a statement issued by Dr. Festus Akande, the Supreme Court Director of Press and Information on Saturday in Abuja.

The Rights group recalled that the statement is in reaction to the recent attacks on the judiciary by some group of persons over some recent political judgments delivered by the apex court.
The CJN warned the public to be mindful of their unwarranted attacks on judicial officers thus-: “Certainly, every Nigerian citizen has an inalienable right to express his or her opinion without any encumbrance but even in the course of expressing such fundamental right, we should be circumspect enough to observe the caution-gate of self-control in order not to infringe on another person’s right. “Even in a state of emotional disequilibrium, we should be reasonable enough to make a good choice of decent words. “We have watched with utter dismay some unfortunate events that have been unfolding in the country, particularly within the political landscape, for some days now.” It is so disheartening to learn that some individuals and groups of persons who ought to know better and even assume the revered positions of role models to a larger proportion of the citizens are now sadly, the very ones flagrantly displaying ignorance and infantilism in the course of defending the indefensible. “We have made it abundantly clear on different occasions that judicial officers are neither political office holders nor politicians that should be dressed in such robes”. “If political parties fail to organize themselves well by managing their internal wrangling maturely and now chose to bring themselves to the court: we are duty-bound to adjudicate in accordance with the provisions of the law and not the dictates of any individual or deity, as some people would want us to do.

HURIWA faulted this verbal intimidation of critics who are actually playing constructive roles to ensure that constitutional democracy is not imperiled.

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