Judges from 12 states in Nigeria will not be appointed to the Court of Appeal in the ongoing process, the National Judicial Council, NJC, has said.
The council said this on Tuesday evening when it confirmed ongoing steps for the appointment of 14 justices of the Appeal Court. This is to bring the total number of judges of the appellate court to 90 as stipulated by law.
The 12 states, the NJC said, already have their fair representation of judges at the appellate court.
“In considering appointment for the 14 vacancies, and to ensure that each zone is adequately presented, all states that have three serving Justices were not considered unless under special circumstances.
“The states not considered are: Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara and Oyo,” Soji Oye, the NJC spokesperson said.
“States like Adamawa, Kebbi and Sokoto have zero representation, which informed the need to include them in the current exercise.
Mr. Oye said the recommended appointments were not lopsided as suggested by media reports.
He gave further explanations on the circumstances surrounding the choice of the 14 recommended judges.
“The attention of the National Judicial Council has been drawn to an on-line publication and some newspapers alleging the National Judicial Council of recommending 14 Judges for appointment to the Court of Appeal, and that none of the Candidates shortlisted was from the South-east,” he said.
Mr. Oye explained that “the exercise is on-going and no candidate has been recommended so far.”
“To put the records straight, appointment of Judicial Officers to the Court of Appeal is done on merit and geographical spread.
“Section 2 of Court of Appeal (Amendment) Act, 2013, governing the appointment of Justices of Court of Appeal provides that the total number of Justices to be appointed should not be more than 90 plus the President. The Court however, currently has 76 Justices leaving vacancy for additional 14 Justices. Of the 76 Justices of the Court, the North Central with 6 States and FCT has 12 Justices; North-East with 6 States has 12 Justices plus the President; North-West with 7 States has 9 Justices; South-East with 5 States has 13 Justices; South-South with 6 States has 14 Justices and South-West with 6 States has 15 Justices.”
The spokesperson also explained the basis for which the vacancies exist.
“Appointments are made to the Court based on the elevation of Appeal Court Justices to the Supreme Court, retirement at the age of 70 years, or death. Such vacancies are filled with judicial officers from the zone of the judge who died, retired or elevated.
“It is therefore unfair for the online media to claim that the National Judicial Council recommended no Candidate from the South-East which currently has 13 Justices at the Court of Appeal,” he added.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier on Tuesday reported a previous explanation by Mr. Oye and the Senior Special Assistant on media to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Awassam Bassey, on the pattern of nomination of judges in courts across Nigeria.