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CSOs mount allegations of unethical practices against Chief Justice Ariwoola, decry worsened image of Nigeria’s judiciary

Civil Society Organisations Jointly Petition for Urgent Reform

A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) has sounded the alarm, urging immediate action to salvage Nigeria’s beleaguered judiciary. In a scathing letter addressed to His Lordship, Chief Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the CSOs have raised grave concerns about the erosion of ethical standards within the Nigerian legal system.

The CSOs, whose work is anchored in the rule of law and the integrity of Nigeria’s justice system, have expressed their collective distress over the current state of affairs. Their joint petition highlights mounting allegations of unethical practices that threaten the very fabric of justice in the country.

“Nigeria’s judiciary, once a proud institution, has lost direction and is now barely a shadow of itself,” the CSOs assert in their letter.

The allegations against Chief Justice Ariwoola span a range of serious concerns. Among them are:


  1. Nepotism: The coalition points to instances where appointments and promotions within the judiciary allegedly favoured family connections over merit. Notably, the CSOs cite a recent incident involving a recruitment process for the FCT High Court, where it is alleged that a slot was reserved for Oyo State to accommodate the Chief Justice’s daughter-in-law, who serves as a magistrate in the FCT Judiciary.
  2. Leadership Failures: His Lordship’s leadership style has come under scrutiny. The CSOs lament a lack of responsiveness, maladministration, and a failure to address critical issues affecting the judiciary.
  3. Erosion of Public Confidence: The decline in the judiciary’s reputation has been exacerbated during Chief Justice Ariwoola’s tenure. Surveys by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime/National Bureau of Statistics (UNODC/NBS) reveal a disturbing trend of corruption and bribery perception.

The CSOs emphasise that Chief Justice Ariwoola’s appointment in 2022 occurred during a critical juncture for Nigeria’s judiciary. While acknowledging that the decline predates his tenure, they stress that urgent reforms are necessary to restore public trust and confidence.

“We feel the weight of professional and moral duty to address these issues,” said the letter signed by the CSOs, including Joseph Otteh of Access to Justice. “The trauma of decline and destabilisation cannot be ignored any longer.”

Other signatories include:

Sonnie Ekwowusi Esq, Chairman, Human & Constitutional Rights Committee, African Bar Association
Bayo Akinlade, Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary
Dominic E. Obozuwa, FundELG Africa
Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Open Justice Alliance
Okechukwu Nwanguma, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)
Adedeji Ajare, Sterling Law Centre


The CSOs have jointly petitioned Chief Justice Ariwoola, urging him to take immediate corrective action. The letter also copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, and Hon. Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun JSC, Deputy National Chairman of the National Judicial Council, calls for:

  • Transparent Investigations: An impartial inquiry into the allegations.
  • Accountability: Swift action to address any confirmed breaches of ethical standards.
  • Reform: Comprehensive measures to restore the judiciary’s integrity.

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