The Supreme Court has denied a media report that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, met with Nigeria’s president-elect, Bola Tinubu, in London.
An online platform, Peoples Gazette, reported on Thursday, that the CJN disguised in a wheelchair in London and met with Mr Tinubu.
Mr Tinubu’s victory at Nigeria’s presidential election held on 25 February, is being contested in court by the presidential candidates of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
But in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, Supreme Court’s spokesperson, Festus Akande, said there was no iota of truth in the report by Peoples Gazette.
Contrary to claims by the report that Mr Ariwoola travelled out of Nigeria on 11 March to the United Kingdom to meet with the president-elect, Mr Akande said “the CJN has been in Nigeria, and presided over meetings of the National Judicial Council (NJC) held on 16 and 17 March.”
This newspaper reported that on 17 March, the NJC at the end of its meeting chaired by Mr Ariwoola issued a statement suspending the Chief Judge of Taraba State, Philibus Andetur, from office on account of misconduct.
Mr Akande disclosed that the CJN accompanied by NJC’s Secretary, Ahmed Gambo, only travelled out of Nigeria briefly to London on 18 March for medical care.
“On 23 March, the CJN returned from his medical trip to London and later reported in the office (in Abuja), where he worked till 8p.m,” he said.
Mr Akande said before the CJN’s London trip, Mr Ariwoola notified President Muhammadu Buhari of the trip.
“The only time the CJN travelled earlier this year was on 25 January, when he travelled for Lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia. He returned on 29 January 2023,” the Supreme Court spokesperson explained.
On Friday, this reporter was granted access to the CJN’s chambers at the Supreme Court, where Mr Ariwoola was seen with a retinue of aides walking into a waiting SUV to attend Jumat prayers at a mosque within the precincts of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
But the Peoples Gazette reported on Thursday that the CJN was currently in London and met with Mr Tinubu.
Tinubu denies meeting CJN
Reacting to the report, Mr Tinubu’s presidential campaign team described the story as a “mere salacious fiction, meant to draw traffic to the discredited purveyor.”
Bayo Onanuga, a spokesperson for the president-elect’s media team, who issued the statement on Friday, noted that Mr Tinubu is still in Paris, France and has not moved to London.
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“We refute emphatically that there has been no clandestine meeting between the President-elect and the respected Chief Justice of our country, anywhere. It’s pure fabricated news, groundless in fact and authenticity,” the statement read.
“We can confirm that the president-elect, who left Nigeria Tuesday (21 March) has not been in London. He is right now in France to have a deserved rest, after a hectic campaign that began in January 2022,” Mr Onanuga said.
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