The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, has allegedly been sighted in London, United Kingdom pretending to be a physically-challenged old man, for a secret meeting with the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
According to Peoples Gazette, Supreme Court sources said Ariwoola’s disguising was a clandestine preparation for a meeting with Tinubu.
The Gazette reported that Ariwoola departed Nigeria on March 11 via Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and was pushed in a wheelchair through the terminals to board a British Airways flight, sources said.
Upon arrival in London, Ariwoola was also wheeled into a hotel downtown, where he has remained ever since. But immediately after checking into the hotel, Ariwoola abandoned his wheelchair and started moving around the facility unaided. The Supreme Court head is not known with any physical disabilities.
“He has been moving about in the hotel without any wheelchair,” a source familiar with the CJN’s activities at the London accommodation told The Gazette. “He was standing on his own in the elevator just yesterday.”
The Gazette learnt that 64-year-old Ariwoola repeatedly picked up food ordered via delivery services at a mid-level lobby, including Uber Eats and Deliveroo. It was unclear whether or not he placed the orders by himself or how he paid.
The sources said, with Tinubu now in Europe before heading to Saudi Arabia for prayer rites, he would be meeting Mr Ariwoola in a secret arrangement to discuss issues unknown to Nigerians.
“The CJN deliberately left the country more than a week ahead of Tinubu to avoid any suspicion about why both of them disappeared at once,” a source familiar said. “That is why he travelled secretly and Tinubu also travelled secretly.”
“They thought that they could secretly move the president-elect abroad without anybody knowing about it,” a source said. “That’s one of the several mistakes they made on this matter, asides from the belief that they could allow the Chief Justice of Nigeria to move about in a London hotel for several days undetected after going through the trouble of disguising him in a wheelchair.”
The Gazette has temporarily withheld the CJN’s photos and the specific hotel he stayed in to protect a source central to this story.
A Supreme Court source said Ariwoola wanted to meet Tinubu to discuss issues that may arise from the budding legal challenge to the declaration as president-elect, including whether or not he should be worried about the petitions recently filed by opposition parties.
“The CJN would either assure Tinubu of victory in court or tell him that he should be worried about the dimension the petitions may take through the court stages,” the source said under anonymity to avoid facing administrative action for divulging privileged information to reporters. “But we may never know what they actually discussed after their secret meeting.”
“I am reluctant to start thinking about the of their meeting right now,” the source added. “But any fair-minded person will easily admit that both of them meeting in a foreign corner to discuss something that Nigerians will not know about is highly suspicious and should be unwarranted.”
A spokesman for the Supreme Court, Festus Akande, abruptly hung up when The Gazette requested comment about Ariwoola’s secret trip to London.
The National Judicial Council declined comments about Ariwoola’s suspicious activity, Tinubu’s spokespersons also declined comments on Thursday afternoon.