President Muhammadu Buhari, has sworn in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja.
Justice Ariwoola, who is the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court was sworn-in at about 3:00pm, following the resignation of the former CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria who hails from Oyo State was formerly a Justice of the Court of Appeal before being elevated to the Supreme Court bench in 2011.
Ariwoola, who would be 68 years by August this year, if confirmed as substantive CJN by the Senate, would be saddled with the responsibility of appointing judges and justices that would handle election petitions that would likely arise from the 2023 general election.
He would also preside over the presidential election petition in the event of any.
Justice Ariwoola was one of the seven justices of the Supreme Court that decided the 2019 presidential election petition that affirmed the election of Buhari as President for a second term.
Born on August 22, 1954, Ariwoola who hails from Oyo State has been on the bench of the apex court for nearly 11 years, having been appointed on November 22, 2011.
Currently, he is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, the International Bar Association, and the Nigerian Body of Benchers
The Acting CJN is a 1980 law graduate of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife, Osun State.
He was called to the Nigeria bar and got enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Solicitor and Advocate in July 1981.
Justice Ariwoola, before his elevation to the apex court, was a Justice of the Court of Appeal between 2005 and 2011 after he was elevated from the State High Court of Oyo State.
He was first appointed a Judge of Superior Court of record in Oyo State in 1992 from private legal practice.
The new CJN started his educational career in his home town Iseyin at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole in Iseyin Local government of Oyo State between 1959 and 1967.
He attended Muslim Modern School in the same town between 1968 and 1969 before proceeding to Ansar-Ud-Deen High School, Saki in Oyo North of Oyo State.
Ariwoola started his career as a State Counsel on National Youth Service (NYSC) at the Ministry of Justice, Akure, Ondo State and later as Legal Officer in the Ministry of Justice, Oyo State until 1988 when he voluntarily left the State Civil Service for private practice.
He had worked as Counsel in-Chambers of Chief Ladosu Ladapo, SAN between October, 1988 and July 1989 when he established Olukayode Ariwoola & Co – a firm of legal Practitioners and Consultants in Oyo town in August, 1989 from where he was appointed in November, 1992 as a Judge of Oyo State Judiciary.
He has served both as chairman and member of various boards and tribunals.
He was Chairman, Board of Directors, Phonex Motors Ltd – one of Oodua Investment conglomerate between 1988 and 1992, Chairman, Armed Robbery Tribunal, Oyo State between May 1993 and September, 1996 when he was posted out of the headquarters, Ibadan to Saki High Court.
Justice Ariwoola also served on the Election Tribunals in Zamfara and Enugu States in 1999. On Election Appeal Courts in Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Benin, Yola and Ilorin at various times.
Before his elevation to the Supreme Court, his lordship served as Justice of Court of Appeal in Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos Divisions. He is also a fellow of International Dispute Resolution Institute (FIDRI) having been inducted in Dubai, U.A.E in 2014.
He has attended many International and National conferences and workshops in France, USA, UK and Dubai, UAE.
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Since the Buhari-led regime emerged in 2015, it has appointed three Chief Justices in both acting and substantive capacities.
In March 2017, then acting President Yemi Osinbajo, nominated Justice Walter Onnoghen as CJN; to replace Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
In January 2019, however, he was suspended for alleged false asset declaration, giving way for Justice Tanko Muhammad, who suddenly resigned for an undisclosed health issue.
Justice Ariwoola will serve in acting capacity until confirmed by the Senate under President Buhari’s request.
The President also conferred on the outgoing CJN with the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger.
In attendance were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, other Justices of the Supreme Court, Director-General of the State Security Service, Yusuf Bichi, amongst others.