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Opinion: An Openly Partisan Chief Justice of Nigeria

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By Farooq A. Kperogi

When Justice Tajudeen Olukayode Ariwoola was appointed Chief Justice of Nigeria, I was excited for two reasons. One, he comes from Oke-Ogun, a part of Oyo State, nay western Nigeria, that is perpetually located on the political and symbolic margins of Nigeria’s Yoruba world.

My enduring passion for the dispensation of representational justice to all groups in Nigeria conduced to my feeling of joy. That someone from Iseyin, a sleepy mid-sized town in what is arguably Yorubaland’s backwater, became CJN not because of where he comes from but on merit has a significance that most Nigerians don’t and can’t appreciate. The sense of communal fulfilment that his appointment has inspired in Oke-Ogun has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Two, after I familiarized myself with his professional trajectory, I came away with the distinct impression that he understood the weight, solemnity, and impartiality that his responsibility as CJN requires. I thought he would be a comforting departure from his predecessor who was suddenly and deliberately promoted to his position only as a strategy to give a legal imprimatur to Buhari’s planned electoral fraud in 2019—after the illegal removal Walter Onnoghen because he was suspected by influence peddlers in Buhari’s Aso Rock to be sympathetic to PDP.

But it is now emerging that Justice Ariwoola may just be as partisan, as compromised, as purchasable, and as clueless as his predecessor—if not more so. On Friday, newspapers reported Justice Ariwoola to have attended a ceremonial dinner party organized for him on Thursday by Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike—of course, with Wike’s four duteous gubernatorial courtiers in tow—after commissioning projects Wike completed in Port Harcourt.

During the dinner, the CJN needlessly thrust himself in the murkiness of political partisanship when he openly identified with Wike’s ongoing gladiatorial political combat with PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and PDP chairman Iyiorcha Ayu. He said he was happy that Seyi Makinde, the governor of his state, was part of the PDP governors who are revolting against their party’s presidential candidate.

“That is why we should not be scared to have these men of the integrity group,” he said after eating his fill of Wike’s dinner goodies. “And I am happy that my own governor is among them because he would try to imitate his friend and in-law because we came here to marry for my governor. So, Governor Wike will always threaten that he will call back his sister if my governor fails to play ball. That is why you see him following His Excellency because my governor is afraid of his wife being recalled.”

He obviously said that in jest, but as English poet Geoffrey Chaucer pointed out in The Cook’s Tale in 1390, many a true word is spoken in jest. In other words, people often betray their true thoughts and perspectives on issues in humorous remarks. Humor vitiates the directness and hurt of some uncomfortable truths.

The CJN deployed the cover of humor to insert himself into the partisan disputes of a major political party whose litigations he might be required to adjudicate in the coming weeks and months. How can the other people he doesn’t support expect justice from him?

Well, as if to make it clear that his partisanship isn’t unintentional, after his partisan postprandial humor, he descended into cheap, vulgar, undignified, and saccharine extolments of Wike’s putative accomplishments in ways that would shame professional griots.

“The things that [Wike] is bestowing to generations unborn will be hard to beat,” he said. “That’s why he says it all. Anytime he has the opportunity, he will say. Yes, he would not be in office forever, but whatever time he has to spend in office, let it be spent very well.”

The CJN, who is constitutionally required to transcend petty political partisanships, was just getting started in his disgraceful and embarrassing hagiographic adoration of Wike. He continued: “I was telling somebody that [Wike] started far below from being council chairman, and the Lord saw in him a son worth raising. I have no doubt the sky is still the limit for Your Excellency. The whole world is seeing what you can do, seeing what you are doing, and wants it replicated. It has to be replicated.”

I honestly feel embarrassed on the CJN’s behalf. The man seems to have lost his calling. It’s evident that he would do better as a praise singer who extols the virtues of rich crooks than as a judge who is required to dispense justice to all parties who come to him.

The sorts of mortifyingly cloying praises that Justice Ariwoola heaped on Wike in Port Harcourt on Thursday usually come from people who are financially compromised, who are dazed by the enormous financial inducement that they received from the object of verbal worship, and who are going out of their way to justify the financial investment in them. He spoke like the piper whose tune was called by the person who paid for it.

Before I am misunderstood, I am not, by any means, suggesting that the CJN was financially induced by Wike. I’d hope that he has good enough ethical consciousness to resist that. But I can’t help but point out that there is an eerie parallel between his mawkish utterances and the maudlin utterances of paid praise singers, and that’s unmentionably horrible for a CJN.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t paid enough attention, but I had never seen a CJN who ever threw his dignity in such tatters before a partisan political crowd as Justice Ariwoola did in Port Harcourt. It’s bad enough that he attended a partisan political event during an election season; he made it worse by leaving no one in doubt that he doesn’t even pretend to be aboveboard.

A Chief Justice who doesn’t have enough moral compunction and ethical restraint to know that he shouldn’t attend a partisan political event during a campaign season— and should guard against being seen as supporting a partisan political cause— can’t be trusted to be impartial to people who are not in his good graces. He denudes himself of even the pretense to impartiality, and that’s a shame.

This isn’t about Atiku Abubakar or Iyiorcha Ayu. It is about the integrity and independence of Nigeria’s judiciary. If the CJN can profess open support for a partisan group and its cause because a governor who is notorious for inducing people with money to buy their loyalty invited him to commission a project and fed him lavishly thereafter, anyone can get him to do their bidding.

I have no confidence in a CJN who is as deficient in self-worth as Justice Ariwoola.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

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Tinubu, Naja’atu and the Damning Confessions

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By Eric Elezuo

The chances of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the forthcoming February 25 presidential election, continue to grow slimmer as the D-day approaches with more damning evidences of ill-health, especially tending to mental disability. The latest revelation of the former governor’s inability to run the affairs of men again is contained in a confession made by Hajia Naja’atu Mohammed, a former chieftain of the party and director of the party’s presidential campaign council. Hajia Mohammed’s confessions are aftermath of the Peoples Democratic Party’s indictment of the APC candidate of massive drug and fraud related felonies.

Hajia Mohammed, a former Director in the Presidential Campaign Council PCC of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Hajia Naja’atu Mohammed said everything about the presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaji Bola Tinubu is motivated by money, and that explains how he was picked as the presidential flag bearer of the party.

The former director of APC PCC, whose assertive facts were made during in an interview on Arise Television’s The Morning Show a few days ago, following an exclusive interview by The Whistler, has maintained in subsequent chats that her statements were accurate. This is even as the APC has denied her as former staff who was sacked for being a mole and incompetent, to which she replied, “Not just that, as far as my expulsion from the APC is concerned, what took them so long? They should have told the public before I resigned, but they kicked me out unfortunately because they are so silly, they are saying after my resignation, they actually kicked me out.

She alleged that Tinubu was the sole pivot through which every aspect of the party primary held in June 2022 revolved.

“This is the first time that I know that governors do not even sponsor the presidential campaign. Normally the governor sponsors the presidential campaign in his state, but this time around, it is Asiwaju that is doing it.

“Everything about Asiwaju is about money, there’s nothing like honour. For God’s sake what do we want? Can we continue to wallow in this, can we continue to deceive ourselves, who are we lying to? We are only lying to ourselves. We see these things. The truth has been written on the horizon. Why are we now turning the other eye?”

Mohammed had resigned from the campaign council and the APC, claiming that developments in the political and democratic space have made it impossible for her to continue participating in party politics, adding that her conscience would not allow her to continue in the APC PCC. Apart from the money politics, she accused the APC flag bearer of, she had also said Tinubu was too sick and possibly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as he could not hold a teacup when she visited him in London some time ago. She said Tinubu does not have the presence of mind to be the president of Nigeria

In the resignation letter, addressed to the National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, she said recent developments in the political and democratic space have made it impossible for her to continue participating in party politics.

She stated that the challenges facing the country today “require me to continue championing the struggle for a better country with a clear conscience as I remain absolutely loyal to Nigeria,” adding that the problems required “the consolidated efforts of competent and patriotic leadership across every level of governance.”

Speaking to The Whistler on what informed her decision to dump the Tinubu campaign, she said that the APC presidential candidate had demonstrated clear symptoms of dementia when she visited him for a private meeting in London, stressing that if for any reason, Tinubu wins the election, he will be like an invalid as his hangers on, led by his wife, will be in charge of leadership of the country.

“Let me tell you why they are following Asiwaju. They know that he’s incapable. They know that he can’t decipher. They know that there is something seriously wrong with his brain. It is like they say in Hausa: somebody will hold the horns of a cow, and you will be milking it. So, all of these people talking all this nonsense know that he’s incapable. They know that he’s handicapped. But they also know that there’s already a cabal that they can depend on for the piece of a pie. No more, no less. And let me tell you, I have not spoken to anyone, both in or outside APC from up North, that I know that has told me or that believes Asiwaju is capable. But all they are saying is that you know we have to get something out of it—that’s all.”

She added: “Asiwaju that I sat with for two hours, he slept most of the time, it was Bisi Akande that I was really talking to. Most importantly he is not only physically unfit, he is mentally unfit, whether we want it or not, this is the truth. It’s not that I hate him, I respect him because I have heard of one or two people that he assisted which is good.

“But when you talk of leadership of over two hundred million people you know that if you remove tribal sentiments, you know that he is incapable, those that will rule are those around him. This is the reality. He is – I said it!

“I sat with him for two hours in London, when you talk of green, he will give you an answer of red, he can’t even decipher, he has very serious dementia, I believe he has Alzheimer’s because he cannot even hold a cup of tea.

“If you remove tribal sentiment, if you remove the Lagos/Ibadan press, if Tinubu were not a Yoruba man, he will not dare contest election because they will crucify him, but people are all there to defend him because he is Yoruba, it’s egbe omo Oduduwa over everything else.

“I was in the campaign for Yola, and we had to beg them to take the mic from him, everything about Tinubu is based on lies. Imagine he is an Hausa man, will he contest elections with all these gbese on top of him? In this campaign, nobody should talk of corruption because they are corruption personified.”

Mohammed denied quitting politics, maintaining that she quitted the APC to join the Atiku Abubakar. She said “I did not say I’m quitting, people don’t read very well, I said party politics, party politics is different from quitting politics, all I’m saying is that I should not be caged to a particular party. I have God-given ability to mobilize, I cannot cage myself to APC, that is why I left the APC, but I’m still very much in politics.

She also took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the president was another stooge, who cares less about the country he is leading. He said Buhari was not actually in charge, but blamed a certain Tunde, who is calling the shots in the business of governance.

She said: “In the first place, Buhari does not care about anything. He had never cared. He doesn’t care about the country, nor is he really in charge. He has thrown the country to the dogs. He has a prime minister in the name of his nephew—grandnephew Tunde. Whether we want to believe it or not, Tunde is the de facto president. I know that even the service chiefs report to him. Tunde is Sabiu. Do you know him? He’s called Tunde because he was named after Tunde Idiagbon.

“Let me tell you, there are times, on a few occasions when I had cause to see the president, that I had given him in black and white some of the atrocities that are taking place in terms of corruption, theft of billions of naira. All he does is to frown and that’s the end of it. He doesn’t care. Sometimes, he tells you, ‘I don’t know’. But how do you know? How do you know if you don’t want to know? He doesn’t want to know. He doesn’t care. There was a time in early 2015 that Buhari said, when he came into office, he said, ‘I’m relying on the newspapers to guide me’. He said that. And the newspapers—a lot of them—have been consistent in speaking out. Even if the service chiefs or others don’t tell him the truth, the newspapers are there. Is he not reading the papers? Why is he not reading the papers? And there was also a time when Buhari first came in, and he locked up Sambo Dasuki for a couple of years. What was the offence of Sambo Dasuki? According to Buhari, Sambo Dasuki had spent billions of security money.”

Naja’atu also revealed how Tinubu manipulated the electoral process to clinch the APC presidential ticket:

“There is nothing like democracy in this democratic system. The whole thing is a hoax. I will tell you, for instance, what happened in their primary election. People were given ballot papers with Asiwaju written on it. That was what happened. And we saw a clip in which governors were collecting money. It’s so shameful. What a disgrace! Governors collecting money; sharing money given to them by Asiwaju. It is such a disgrace. It is the first time that I have heard or seen such. At least in this dispensation. I have been in politics for decades, I was born into politics. But this is the first time that a presidential candidate will be sponsoring governors to support him. This is what is happening. Asiwaju is synonymous with money. For God’s sake, if all it takes is money, then what else will he do when he takes over power? It’s for him to retrieve his money.

“Look, this is not even about Egbe Omo Oduduwa. Osinbajo is even more Egbe Omo Oduduwa than Tinubu. He’s a professor. He’s brilliant. He knows what he’s doing. For the few weeks that he was given this country to run, he did a great job. But the Lagos-Ibadan press villainised him. They said all sorts of things against him because Tinubu controls the strongest propaganda machine in this country, which is the Lagos–Ibadan press.

Naja’atu was unequivocal when she stated that Tinubu purchased the ticket from the governors. “There’s no doubt about that,” she said.

She said everyone backing and singing Buhari’s praises know the vegetable state he is in, but have prefer to remain mute because of selfish interest .

“The problem is this: it’s extreme selfishness. All these people that you are talking about are thinking of themselves as individuals. They are thinking of their personal interests. They don’t have the country at heart. That is why I said I have to follow my conscience because I cannot afford to continue to pretend and remain silent. In fact, to be silent is criminal. This is my position: anyone who refuses to talk when they are supposed to talk is either a hypocrite or a coward or both. So, that is why I took the position I took. These people that you are talking about, in Hausa, we say they are the plugs, from North to South. But they are an insignificant minority. And the fault of the generality of Nigerians is that they have allowed themselves to be pulled by the nose, most out of ignorance, some out of tribal or religious sentiments.

Let me tell you what our Prophet said— when they said Muslim-Muslim ticket, I stated it’s a hoax because Islam is explicit on the question of leadership. What it says is a chosen atheist is better than an unjust Muslim, which is the injunction. The first law given by God, according to the Quran, is the law which Allah put on himself. The first law was he had denied himself the right to oppress. That is the law given to God to himself. And then he went on to say that he had denied injustice within ‘my creation’. So, what are we talking about? What the hell about Muslim-Muslim? Who cares about that?

However, the APC, in denying the allegations levelled against Tinubu, called Naja’atu a political jobber, who was sacked for incompetency. Special Adviser on Public Affairs at the Tinubu Media Office, Mahmud Jega in a statement in Abuja said although Mohammed deceived the gullible public by claiming that she resigned, “her sack letter with ignominy from the campaign and the party had just arrived at her desk”.

Jega stated, “Her desperate, fact-free, machination-filled and imaginary utterances since her sack from the campaign has proved beyond doubt that she was unfit to serve in the first place, until it was discovered that she was actually a mole.

“Not being a medical doctor but whose profession in the last three decades was as a political jobber and expert name-dropper, she nevertheless issued a pseudo-medical report on our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, after a brief meeting in London.

“Even the association of native doctors would sack her for quackery and for reaching a medical conclusion without any test”, he stated.

He said despite his position as the clear front-runner in the 2023 presidential race, Tinubu has been running the most punishing campaign schedule of any of the presidential candidates and has already visited many parts of the country with an almost non-stop schedule of rallies, town hall meetings and meetings with professional, community, business, and religious groups and associations.

“Naja’atu claimed that when she asked Asiwaju what plans he had for the North, he answered that he had none. This is strange and questions the integrity of the woman and her story.”

“Asíwájú has unfolded an Action plan for the whole country, in which problems bedeviling the North got very comprehensive attention. Asiwaju also attended the Arewa Summit last year, at which he unfolded and elaborated on these programs.

“As conclusive proof of her unstable and unreliable character, Naja’atu said in her pre-emptive “resignation letter” that she was quitting party politics as the political parties have no ideological differences and her values and beliefs no longer align with party politics.

“Within a day, pictures surfaced in the media showing her meeting with the PDP presidential candidate and declaring her support for him.

“All Nigerians must be wondering what kind of “values and beliefs” she has apart from opportunism, selfishness and greed.

“We were least surprised about her dramatic exit, coming after she went on TV to disparage our party and President Muhammadu Buhari. Only a mole could behave in such a manner.

“We urge our supporters all over the country to ignore the antics of this political soldier of fortune and concentrate on the job of delivering the Tinubu/Shettima ticket at the polls in barely a month from now”, Jega added.

“It’s a lie,” Naja’atu countered, adding that “You know, Asiwaju himself wanted to come to my house. They met my mentor Wamako, and they spoke with a lot of people for me to ceasefire. Then, last (Monday) night, I decided that we would ceasefire. But then I saw this (APC’s PCC’s statement alleging she was sacked from the council). Asiwaju himself wanted to come to my house to plead with me—I swear to God almighty! They were already running helter-skelter—going from pole to pillar—for certain people that I respect to prevail on me to ceasefire. As of last night, I agreed to ceasefire. But when I saw their statement this morning (Tuesday), I sent it to Farouk, and I sent it to Omar Farouk. I also sent it to a few other people that were pleading with me. I told them: ‘Ceasefire gone!’ The conversation continues. Everything about them is paralysed. When did they sack me? Could they have written a backdated letter? When you base everything on lies—I swear: yesterday (Monday), I was feeling so bad as so many of them were pleading with me. It’s not good to be arrogant. We must always be humble.”

What sort of meanness is this that these people want a man who is clearly unfit to be president? Naja’atu fired at some state governors and political hangers-on, who are bent on pushing Tinubu to the presidency.

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Atiku’ll Win Without G-5 Govs – PDP Campaign Council

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Ahead of the February 2023 presidential election, loyalists of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, have predicted outright victory for the former Vice President.

They said they were confident of the PDP candidate’s victory with or without the support of the five governors who are currently not participating in the party’s electioneering.

This is even as Atiku’s men said the solidarity enjoyed by the candidate cut across party lines, noting that the task to rescue Nigeria from “the ills” of the past seven and a half years should be supported by well-meaning Nigerians, irrespective of their religious and political leanings.

Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, the Director of Strategic Communication, National Election Management Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Committee, Chief Dele Momodu, said Atiku had distinguished himself from other contestants in the race to Aso Rock.

“There is no candidate today that can stop Atiku Abubakar from becoming President of Nigeria. None of the candidates has his pedigree, exposure, competence, temperament, and network. He has paid his dues, having staked his life in the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria in the past 29 years. His crowning glory will come in 2023.

“I heard one of the G5 governors saying yesterday that he will announce his preferred presidential candidate in January. We hope they will announce Atiku but with or without the support of these governors, Atiku is winning the election. He will become the President of Nigeria. This is not rhetoric.

“Everyone contesting can list thousands of reasons they should be voted for but we need a man who is an expert at job creation, a unifier, a Nigerian that Nigerians can trust. Wherever he is called to share his vision, he goes there no matter how inconvenient it is. Unlike those who run away from town halls, Atiku is always available to speak about the issues. While others attack him, his focus is on the issues. We do hope these candidates will man up to debate him on issues of security, job creation, economy, sports, infrastructure, and what have you,” he said.

Similarly, a national officer of the party, Timothy Osadolor, described Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, his Abia, Oyo, Benue, and Enugu state counterparts, Okezie Ikpeazu, Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, respectively as a band of leaders nobody took seriously anymore.

The Punch

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Dele Momodu Condemns Tinubu’s Performance at Chatham House, Knocks El-Rufai, Fayemi for Window Dressing APC Candidate

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By Eric Elezuo

The Director of Strategic Planning, Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council, Chief Dele Momodu, has come down hard on the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for a lack-lustre performance when he made a presentation at the Chatham House on Monday. Momodu did not spare the candidate’s handlers for fumbling and bungling big time the opportunity to present Tinubu as a brilliant politician and administrator as well as prominent Nigerians like Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai and immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, for what he called ‘window dress’ of Tinubu. He therefore, urged to weep for the country.

Momodu made the observations in an article he titled Weep Not for Tinubu, But Nigeria, where addressed the level of disgrace the actions of Tinubu and his acolytes must have brought to Nigeria, adding that the “problem of Nigeria is often aggravated by the voluptuous ambitions of some acolytes who wish to remain eternally relevant in the corridors of power at the expense of the long-suffering nation.”

It would be recalled that Tinubu failed to answer direct questions he was asked but chose to appoint members of his team, who answered on his behalf.

Read Momodu article in full:

WEEP NOT FOR TINUBU, BUT NIGERIA

– BY Dele Momodu

Call it what you will, what happened at CHATHAM HOUSE LONDON yesterday was a complete charade… The BOLA TINUBU handlers fumbled, and bungled it big time… They showcased him like a packaged invalid. It would have been better to present him as a brilliant politician and administrator, warts and all, who’s capable of independent thoughts. No man is perfect. His gaffes would have been more pardonable and acceptable… He was expected to sell his own vision and mission…

But what we saw yesterday was a theatre of the absurd. It brought back memories of our great President ALHAJI UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA and how he mysteriously disappeared from radar and some of his aides governed by proxy. I was one of those who led the ENOUGH-IS-ENOUGH protest against the YAR’ADUA cabal in Abuja in 2010. What was unacceptable then is even more unacceptable now with benefits of hindsight. Our country should be placed above friendship.

Truth is the problem of Nigeria is often aggravated by the voluptuous ambitions of some acolytes who wish to remain eternally relevant in the corridors of power at the expense of the long-suffering nation.

All those around TINUBU yesterday knew the bitter truth but chose to fool Nigerians. One of them was heard in a viral video telling TINUBU to dance to the popular song BUGA by KIZZ DANIEL because “that’s what the youths want to see…” and lo and behold TINUBU instantly transfigured into an accomplished choreographer…

Very sad, and unfortunate, that whenever we think Nigeria can never sink deeper into the abyss, something occurs that jolts us out of such assumptions and complacency… I was with MUHAMMADU BUHARI the day he visited CHATHAM HOUSE seven years ago. He was solid and charismatic. He needed no one to prompt him. He answered questions eloquently and intelligently to the best of his abilities. That’s what TINUBU was expected to accomplish yesterday. What he did instead was like inviting helpers to sit a JAMB exam. It is horrifying to watch some respected intellectuals like NASIR EL RUFAI and KAYODE FAYEMI as they struggled to window dress TINUBU on a much hallowed global stage..

In conclusion, please, weep not for TINUBU but for NIGERIA…

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