Despite video evidence, supreme court denies Ariwoola’s comment on Makinde, Integrity Group

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The apex court said this in a statement issued on Saturday by Festus Akande, its spokesperson.

The Integrity Group includes five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors — Wike of Rivers, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Samuel Ortom of Benue, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu — and is also dubbed the “G5”.

Ariwoola, during a dinner held in his honour by Wike, the Rivers governor, on Thursday, commended Makinde’s membership of the group.

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“This man (Wike), I understand he will continue to commission projects till his last day in office. There are projects wide open, all over the place, and that is why we should not be scared to have these men of the Integrity Group,” Ariwoola had said.

“And I am happy that my own governor (Makinde) is among them because he would try to imitate his friend and in-law, because we came here to marry for my governor.”

But the supreme court denied that the CJN made such a remark, describing it as a misconception to score cheap goals in political campaign season.

“Issues bordering on misconceptions and misrepresentations of this nature are not always strange in times like this when the country is preparing for general elections, as some people may want to take advantage of every opportunity to score very cheap goals,” the statement reads.

“As we all know, this is the era of aggressive and even unconventional politicking, so, there’s nothing that will not be heard or seen at this crucial time, especially between now and February 2023, when the general elections will be conducted.

“People say whatever they choose to say, just to please their selfish interests and inordinate desires.

“We can’t really pinpoint where such barefaced falsehood is coming from; and certainly, we don’t also know at what point the CJN said he was happy that Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was a member of the now christened ‘Integrity Group’ or ‘G-5’ Governors.

“Everyone knows that the CJN, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON, is a judicial officer and not a politician, as such, would never directly or remotely make such comments or innuendoes.”

The apex court said the CJN and other senior judicial officers were in Rivers state on Thursday and Friday to inaugurate the two buildings to accommodate the Federal Judicial Service Commission’s south-south liaison office, and the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute.

It said the CJN had, at the event, merely expressed his surprise to see Makinde and the other PDP G-5 governors in Rivers, not long after he also met them at a reception that was organised in his honour by the Oyo state government in October 2022.

“This, of course, is a comment that, ordinarily, ought to elicit applause and not myopic misrepresentations, as governance is all about positive comparisons and healthy competitions,” the statement adds.

“Anyone or group of individuals making these unconscionable assumptions and pervading the misinformation are by implication, creating the impression that it is now a crime for the CJN to have come from Oyo state, which coincidentally, has a member of the group, Makinde, as the governor.

“Let it be noted that anything said, assumed, presumed, reported or placed in the public domain outside the above facts, is simply a mere figment of the imagination of such authors and don’t in anyway represent what the CJN said in Port Harcourt, as we are not ready to join issues with such purveyors of misinformation.”

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