Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has confirmed that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike did visit his office twice this month, but he denies meeting with the governor.
There are reports that Wike visited the CJN on the day the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, conducted hearing into an application filed by Wike to challenge an order permitting his opponent to inspect the electoral materials used for the poll that brought him to office.
The All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the last election Dakuku Peterside is currently challenging Wike’s victory at the tribunal.
Reacting to the development, Ahuraka Isah, media aide to the CJN, said the Number Judicial Officer of the country was not around to receive the governor on both occasions.
The statement by the aide reads, “Our attention has been drawn to reports that the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike had met with the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, during one of his visits to the office of the CJN on July 6 and July 8 this year.
“However, we would not have ordinarily wished to react to such stories except for the erroneous impression it may cast in the mind of the public. We wish to state with all emphasis that the CJN at no time had an audience with Governor Wike. This includes before, on and after the said date.
“For further clarification, during the week of the purported first visit by Governor Wike on July 6, 2015, his Lordship was away in Saudi Arabia performing Umrah. On the date of the alleged second visit, which was on Wednesday July 8, 2015, the CJN was in court observing the interview of shortlisted applicants for the award of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“A senior official in the CJN chamber intercepted Governor Wike and advised that it is a policy of the CJN not to entertain visits of politicians, especially those with cases in the courts.
“Consequently, Governor Wike left at that point, even though he tried to state reasons for his visit, which included the issue of the appointment of substantive Chief Judge for his state and to thank the CJN for sending the Bayelsa State Chief Judge to swear him into the office.
“In fact, his Lordship was not even aware of the visit until the next morning. The CJN therefore did not see the governor as reported in the said dailies.”
The CJN also assured the people of Rivers State and Nigerians that he “is veritably committed to upholding the integrity, neutrality and independence of our Judiciary”.
“This is a responsibility, which we hold dear and will not shirk,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike has denied that his visit had anything to do with his case pending before the tribunal.