Senior bureaucrats in the Supreme Court were on Tuesday in confusion on how to address issues around the age of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola following observations that he started school when he was just a year old.
On the official website of the Supreme Court, Justice Ariwoola was born in Iseyin, Oyo state, on August 22, 1958 and began his primary education in 1959 at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole, in his hometown.
The website further said that after his primary school education, he then moved to Muslim Modern School in the same town from 1968 to 1969 before graduating to Ansar-Ud-Deen High School, Saki area of Oyo, for secondary education.
He earned his law degree from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1980, and a year later, he was called to the Nigerian bar and got enrolled as a solicitor and advocate of the supreme court.
Specifically, the details on the website suggested that he was less than one year when he began his primary education.
The details about the age of the new acting CJN are presently subject of rife debate on the social media.
The Supreme Court’s edit
But the Supreme Court management which attention was drawn to the discovery had serially edited, deleted and replaced it with “he was born over 60 years ago”.
Vanguard reports that many public servants are in the habit of altering their age record in order to gain more years in service.
Altering of such official record is, however, a crime under the law.
In the meantime, Vanguard had earlier reported that the official website of the Supreme Court is sometimes replete with error.
Efforts to confirm the authentic age record of the jurist as at press time were abortive.
Justice Ariwoola’s name was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari to replace Justice Tanko Muhammad, who resigned his appointment on Monday.
He emerged the successor of Tanko in line with the age-long tradition at the bench to the effect that when the incumbent head of court vacates office either by reason of death, retirement, resignation or sack, the most senior judge takes over.
The tradition is to ensure predictability and zero rancour in the bench on issue of succession.
Justice Ariwoola who took his oath of office on Monday is expected to serve in acting capacity for a maximum of three months until confirmation by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the National Assembly.
At the swearing-in ceremony in the Presidential Villa, the acting CJN swore to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the meantime, some northern justices were against his appointment on the grounds that the 63-year-old is allegedly battling health issues.
They alleged that the illness might affect Ariwoola’s performance as the leader of the Supreme Court just as it affected the immediate past CJN.
The next in hierarchy to him, Musa Dattijo Muhammad, is also said to be very ill and had just had a surgery.
The nature of the ailments is not publicly known.