Olukayode Ariwoola GCON (born 22 August 1954) is a Nigerian lawyer and justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria who serves as the chief justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was formerly a justice of the Nigerian courts of appeal and was appointed to the bench of the supreme court of Nigeria on 22 November 2011. He was named substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria on 27 June 2022 after outgoing Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad resigned.
After nearly two and a half years as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad retired on Monday, becoming the 16th leader of the Nigerian judiciary since the country’s independence. He was promptly succeeded by Oyo State native Olukayode Ariwoola.
On Monday, Mr. Muhammad abruptly resigned from his position 18 months before his scheduled retirement date of December 20, 2023, claiming health reasons.
According to protocol, Mr. Muhammad’s resignation allowed Mr. Ariwoola, the Supreme Court’s senior-most Justice, to be sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari as the interim CJN.
Mr. Ariwoola is anticipated to continue serving as the CJN in an interim capacity until the process for his official appointment is complete.
The chief justice of Nigeria, who serves as the head of several important institutions in the judiciary and has the authority to nominate individuals to these positions, has a domineering influence over the system.
Therefore, the CJN’s personality typically dictates the course the Nigerian judiciary takes while he or she is in office.
His age has been disputed because his Wikipedia page lists 1958 as his birth year, which is different from what is on his official papers.
Seven crucial details regarding the new Chief Justice of the Nation are listed below, including his birthdate:
1. the 17th chief justice to lead Nigeria since its founding.
22 justices, including the recently appointed acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Ariwoola, have ruled over the activities of the Nigerian judiciary since the northern and southern protectorates were combined into the country of Nigeria.
Up until 1958, when the first indigenous chief justice, Adetokunbo Ademola, who was then known as the Chief Justice of the Federation, was appointed, five of Nigeria’s 22 chief justices presided over the country’s judicial system.
Nigeria became a republic in 1963, three years after gaining independence from British colonial authority in 1960, and the Nigerian Supreme Court was established.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria became the highest court in Nigeria when appeals to the British Federal Committee of the Privy Council ceased.
16 different chief justices have presided over the Nigerian Supreme Court, and by extension the Nigerian judiciary, since the late Mr. Ademola was appointed chief justice in 1958 until Sunday.
On Monday, Mr. Ariwoola was appointed as the 17th Chief Justice.
To refer to Mr. Ariwola as Nigeria’s 17th indigenous chief justice would mean Darnley Alexander, a longtime Caribbean resident who was appointed in 1975, was also considered a Nigerian.
The Murtala Muhammed military dictatorship chose Mr. Alexander to succeed Taslim Elias, who had been controversially ousted as chief judge of the South Eastern State (now Cross River State). However, if the late Mr. Alexander is excluded from the list of past native chief justices of Nigeria, Mr. Ariwoola will be listed as the 16th name on the roll call.
Since Nigeria’s independence, there have been nine people who have held the position of chief justice; the new one, a Muslim from Iseyin in Oyo State, is the seventh person from the south to do so. The other nine have all been from the north.
2. two-year term in office
Mr. Ariwoola was born on August 22, 1954, according to his resume, which PREMIUM TIMES has received. This indicates that on August 22, he will turn 68.
Mr. Ariwoola will serve as the next substantive CJN for approximately two years and two months, ending on August 22, 2024, the day he is anticipated to reach the statutory retirement age of 70.
3. Legal training and education
The Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole in Iseyin is where Mr. Ariwoola began his primary schooling in 1959, according to his profile posted on the Supreme Court website. 1966 saw his graduation from the institution.
From 1967 to 1969, he attended Muslim Modern School in the same city. In 1970, he transferred to Ansar-Ud-Deen High School in Saki, Oyo State. At the Ansar-Ud-Deen High School in Saki, he graduated from high school in 1974.
In 1977, he was accepted to study law at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife).
He graduated from the institution with a Bachelor’s degree in Law (LLB) in 1980.
In July 1981, he was admitted to the Nigerian bar and registered as a solicitor and advocate before the Nigerian Supreme Court.
4. Teacher turned judge
In 1974, Mr. Ariwoola taught at Ansar-ud Deen Society Primary School in Atori, Iseyin before beginning his legal education.
In 1988, Mr. Ariwoola accepted a part-time teaching position at the Civil Service Training School (now Simeon Adebo) Secretariat in Ibadan, Oyo State, after earning his law degree and beginning his legal career in private practice.
Between 1984 and 1988, he also worked as a part-time instructor at the University of Ibadan’s Faculty of Education’s Extra Moral (Advance Level) Studies.
He similarly did part-time teaching at the Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration, the Polytechnic Ibadan, between 1989 and 1992.
5. 40 years of legal career, 30 years on the bench
In total, Mr. Ariwoola has dedicated roughly 40 years to his legal career, which began when he completed his national youth service at the Ondo State Ministry of Justice in Akure between 1981 and 1982 as a state counsel.
Between 1982 to 1988, he worked as a legal officer in the Oyo State Ministry of Justice.
The new chief justice worked at Chief Ladosu Ladipo, SAN & Co. from October 1988 until August 1988. attorneys serving as counsel in chambers.
Later, from 1989 to 1992, he was the founding partner of Olu Ariwoola & Co Mako Allah Champers in Iseyin.
When Mr. Ariwoola was chosen to serve as a judge of the Oyo State High Court in 1992, he continued his legal career on the bench.
He was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 1995 after serving on the High Court bench for three years.
Before being appointed to the Supreme Court in 2011, he served on the Court of Appeals bench. With 11 years total on the bench of the Supreme Court, he is now the Justice with the longest tenure.
His judicial career, which began in 1992 with his appointment as a High Court judge, is now in its 30th year.
6. Protest letter
Mr. Ariwoola was at the top of the list of the 14 Supreme Court Justices who recently submitted a memo to the outgoing CJN to express their displeasure with how the court was run and how poorly their welfare was being handled. When Mr. Muhammad announced his resignation on Monday, the repercussions from the leaked memo had not yet subsided.
Days after rejecting the accusations made against him by his coworkers, Mr. Muhammad resigned. But before he left on Monday, the problems still remained.
7. Notable decisions
Mr. Ariwoola was a member of the Supreme Court’s seven-member team, which was chaired by the now-retired Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour and provided legal support for the July 14, 2020, virtual court session.
He served on the seven-judge panel headed by Tanko Muhammad, his predecessor, that upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the general election of 2019.
In its ruling issued on October 30, 2019, the panel dismissed Atiku Abubakar’s lawsuit challenging Mr. Buhari’s victory in the presidential election held on February 23, 2019, which was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He was also a member of the seven-person panel, led by Mr. Muhammad, that issued the contentious ruling from the Supreme Court that ousted Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP as governor of Imo State on January 14, 2020, and replaced him with Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Supreme Court’s decision recognizing the victory of Governors Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State in the 2019 governorship elections was delivered by the same panel, of which Mr. Ariwoola was a member, on January 20, 2020.
On March 3, 2020, Mr. Ariwoola once more delivered the lead majority judgment of the panel’s six other justices, rejecting Mr. Ihedioha’s request for a reconsideration of the earlier ruling.