The United States government has placed a visa ban on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola, and six other members of the Supreme Court of Nigeria over their delivery of controversial and inciting judgments.
This is according to an exclusive report by the US-based Pointblank News. It said that “besides Ariwoola, the other apex court justices whose identities were revealed by a highly placed source, are Musa Dattijo Mohammed, Centus Nweze and Justice Kudirat Kekere Ekun.”
It was learnt their ban was connected to questionable judgements they gave, including the controversial judgment that made Senator Hope Uzodinma governor of Imo State in 2020, as well as the judgements that recognised Senate President Godswill Akpabio and his predecessor Senator Ahmed Lawan as winners of their senatorial elections.
Recall that Uzodimma who came fourth in the 2019 governorship election was controversially declared winner of election by the Supreme Court.
In the case of Lawan and Akpabio, the Supreme Court ruled, in separate judgements, that both senators, who didn’t participate in their party’s (All Progressives Congress) primary election are the party’s senatorial candidates.
Lawan and Akpabio were presidential aspirants at the time the party held primaries for their senatorial districts which legally ruled them out of the senatorial contest.
While they both stepped down for Bola Tinubu who later won the presidential ticket, senatorial candidates had emerged from their senatorial zones to represent the party in the election.
Bashir Machina and Udom Ekpoudom won the primaries and emerged senatorial candidates for Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West respectively
and their mandates were recognised by High and Appeal courts. But the Apex court overturned the judgements of the two lower courts.
However, Pointblanknews learnt that the embattled Supreme Court justices got wind of their ban to enter the US after they were denied entry to the country to attend a seminar.
The source, a ranking Supreme Court official who pleaded anonymity, confided in Pointblanknews that Justice Ekun was the first to be informed of her visa ban.
The source added the ban has become a burden on Justices of the Supreme Court.
The source said, “And that signals the Justices have received indicate that the U.K and the European Union have been asked to consider actions too by the U.S authority.”
The source added the judgements on cases involving Uzodimma, Akpabio and Lawan, which raised some much upset within the polity and “some other cases were considered to be against democracy and rule of law.”
Recall that the Supreme Court in January, 2020, nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Imo State.
The apex court declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.
In the unanimous judgment of the seven-member panel, read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court agreed that results in 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final governorship election result in Imo State.
Justice Kekere-Ekun said with the results from the 388 polling units added, Mr Uzodinma polled a majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The judge did not provide the details of the new votes scored by each of the candidates after the addition of the results from the 388 polling units.
Consequently, she voided and set aside the declaration of Mr lhedioha as the winner of the 2019 governorship election in the South-East state.
The court ordered that the certificate of return wrongly or unlawfully issued to Mr lhedioha be immediately withdrawn by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and a fresh one issued to Mr Uzodinma as the elected governor of the state.
Also, the Supreme Court in February 2023, declared Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the authentic candidate of the APC for Yobe North Senatorial District for the 25 February general election.
The court made the declaration in a three-against-two split judgement of its five-member panel. The panel was led by Centus Nweze.
The majority judgement held that the decisions of the Federal High Court in Yobe and the Court of Appeal in Abuja “were perverse and must be set aside.”
The APC had challenged the judgements of the lower courts which affirmed Bashir Machina as the candidate of Yobe North Senatorial District for the election.
It urged the Supreme Court to nullify the two previous verdicts and legitimise APC’s National Working Committee’s forwarding of Mr Lawan’s name to INEC as flagbearer for the poll.
In a related development, the Supreme Court in February declared Godswill Akpabio as the validly nominated candidate for Akwa-Ibom North-West senatorial seat election holding on 25 February.
APC had challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which sacked Mr Akpabio as its candidate.
Mr Akpabio is a former governor of Akwa-Ibom State and ex-minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
In Mr Akpabio’s place, the appellate court had on 14 November 2022 ordered INEC to recognise Udom Ekpoudom, a retired deputy inspector general of police, as the authentic candidate of the party.
Delivering the unanimous judgement of its five-member panel led by Kudirat Kekere-Ekun on Friday, the Supreme Court held that the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal were wrong to have assumed jurisdiction in the suit because the issue of candidate nomination lies squarely with political parties.