The nomination of Justice Oluwakemi by the CJN was revealed through an internal memo.
Victoria Oluwakemi, the daughter of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola has been reportedly nominated as a judge for the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja.
The nomination of Justice Oluwakemi by the CJN was revealed through an internal memo seen by Peoples Gazette.
According to the news platform, the CJN began lobbying to seat his daughter on the bench after he was notified in a January 18, 2024, letter from the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, that 12 new positions had opened up in the court.
Baba-Yusuf reportedly urged Ariwoola, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, and the President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, to send candidates drawn from a dozen states.
Baba-Yusuf was quoted as saying, “In line with the National Judicial Council Guidelines and Procedural Rules for Appointment of Judicial Officers to Superior Courts, I hereby invite your lordships, the honourable attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice and the president of the Nigerian Bar Association to kindly nominate suitably qualified persons from the aforementioned states for appointment to the Federal Capital Territory High Court.”
He added that they should forward their candidates with resumés to his chambers latest by January 19, 2024.
Baba-Yusuf listed the states due to feed candidates to the court as Bauchi, Bayelsa, Enugu, Imo, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba and Zamfara.
But The Gazette reports that checks showed that Oyo already has two judges on the FCT High Court, Mohammed Alhaji Madugu and Ajoke Adepoju from Saki and Ibadan South-West LGAs, respectively.
The court has 70 judges system-wide and they are selected across the 36 states and FCT. Some states have two or three judges, while some, like Ebonyi, have none.
Officials said that Ebonyi should have been among the 12 states to fill vacancies as it currently has no position on the court, but another seat was opened for Oyo to allow the CJN to fill it with his daughter, which would give Oyo three slots at the expense of states without a single slot.
A judiciary source told the news platform, “The CJN personally asked the FCT CJ to do this exercise to employ his daughter-in-law before his retirement in August,” adding, “When is he going to realise that the Nigerian judiciary is not his personal asset?”
Judiciary workers also took issues with Ariwoola’s nomination because she is a junior magistrate with only three years’ experience, having been appointed first in 2020. She’s currently a grade two at Wuse Zone 2.
Baba-Yusuf did not return a request seeking comments, but a court official who spoke on the condition of anonymity reportedly said the senior judge would try to close ranks with aggrieved colleagues over the matter to avoid yet another revolt.
The official said, “The chief judge has been trying to avoid any controversy for now,” adding, “His hands may be tied right now with the nomination of the chief justice’s daughter, but he might call his colleagues to a meeting and let them see things from his own point of view.”
The official reportedly feared that even if Baba-Yusuf would consider dropping the CJN’s daughter to ward off internal revolt, a positive outcome would be difficult because of the chief justice, who defied public uproar over his son, junior brother and others he pushed into top positions in the judiciary.
In July 2023, the National Judicial Council (NJC) appointed the CJN’s son, Ariwoola Olukayode Jnr, as a judge of the Federal High Court.
Ariwoola also successfully installed his younger brother, Adebayo Ariwoola, as the auditor of the National Judicial Council, while his nephew, Lateef Ganiyu, was recently promoted to the appeal court.