G5: PDP cautions CJN over party’s internal affairs
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday expressed worries over comments credited to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, where he was said to have dabbled into internal affairs of the PDP.
The PDP said though it had greatest respect for the institution of the judiciary and judicial officers, it however rejected any action or utterance by any judicial officer, let alone the CJN, that hindered the integrity of the judiciary.
This was contained in a statement issued by PDP, National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Saturday.
The party flayed the CJN over his comment that he is elated that Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State is a member of the G5 or the ‘Integrity Group’.
Ariwoola had reportedly made the statement on Thursday at a dinner held in his honour by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State in Port Harcourt.
The G5 is made up of five aggrieved governors of the PDP calling for the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu as a precondition to support the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. The G5 wants Ayu to step down over what they described as northern dominance within the party.
Aside from Wike and Makinde, other members of the G5 are Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
The party said, “By delving into the internal affairs of the PDP at a public event in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Thursday, November 24, 2022, where he was reported to have made reference to the political activities of some PDP governors, which comment is viewed to be encouraging division in our party, the PDP posits that the CJN’s action is unacceptable and inconsistent with his status as the head of the judicial arm of government.”
“Our party is worried that such partisan comment by the CJN is in violation of his Oath of Office as the head of the country’s judicial arm which is expected to be impartial and non-partisan.”
“Irrespective of the circumstance or situation, the CJN is expected to be circumspect at all times and avoid partisan actions and utterances that are likely to erode the institutional integrity of the judiciary and bring it to disrepute especially as the nation prepares for the 2023 general election.”
It stressed that in a Federal Republic such as Nigeria, with a constitutional separation of powers, the judiciary is entrusted with the responsibility of interpretation of the laws and as such should be seen to be neutral at all times and endeavor to interpret and review the laws in the context of the case and controversy of the parties before it.
In the statement , the spokesperson added that Nigerians expected the CJN, with his experience, to be in a position to advice, rebuke and punish members of the judicial arm who get entangled in the political arena.
The statement noted, “The fact that the CJN himself is the one reportedly violating this critical ethic of neutrality, fairness and respect for the Oath of Office for Judicial Officers raises serious concern in our polity.”
“The question is, how do Nigerians and especially the PDP trust that the CJN will be an even-handed arbiter in any case or matter relating to internal issues in our party or those connected to other political parties?”
“It is instructive to note that the test for a Judge to recuse himself from a matter is the “likelihood of bias” and the CJN is expected to be mindful of that test in his public engagements.”