But the CJN, through a statement by his media aide, Ahuraka Isah, said he was not around to receive or have an audience with the governor on both occasions.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Monday that one of the governor’s visits coincided with 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 election of the former education minister, who ran for the governorship on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, is being challenged by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
Investigations by The PUNCH in Abuja showed that the visits were made without prior appointments.
Reacting to The PUNCH’s story on Monday, Isah, confirmed that the CJN never had prior appointments with the governor.
Isah explained that on the first visit by the governor, the CJN was away in Saudi Arabia observing the Lesser Hajj while on the second occasion, the CJN was at a meeting of the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee, where candidates shortlisted for the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, were being interviewed.
The statement reads in part, “Our attention has been drawn to insinuations in some dailies that the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike had met with the Honourable 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 misinformation and the wrong 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 include before, on and after the said date.
“For further clarification, during the week of the purported first visit by the 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 was 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.”