A Lagos-based advocacy group, Access to Justice, has dragged the National Judicial Council before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court seeking to stop the appointment of Supreme Court judges’ nominees citing circumvention of applicable judicial appointment guidelines.
The lawsuit, filed by Jude Ogodi and Joseph Otteh on behalf of the group, accused the respondents of failure to comply and ensure compliance with established judicial appointment procedures.
”They, in fact, circumvented aspects of those procedures which make the recruitment process transparent, fair, merit-based and competitive and further failed to disclose information that would enable interested persons monitor how the recruitment exercise was done.”
Also joined as respondents in the suit are the Federal Judicial Service Commission; Tanko Muhammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Ahmad Lawan, the senate president; President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group sought a declaration from the court that the appointment did not comply with laid-down guidelines and an order quashing the list of nominee judges.
Last October, the NJC recommended the appointment of four new Supreme Court judges and sent the list to Mr Buhari.
Those recommended include Adamu Jauro (North-East), Emmanuel Agim (South-South), C. Oseji (South-South); and Helen Ogunwumiju (South-West).
According to the group, the 2014 Judicial Appointment Guidelines and the 2016 National Judicial Policy made far-reaching changes to previous judicial recruitment systems that were characterized by lack of transparency, opacity, lack of a level-playing field, influence-peddling and nepotism.
”The 2014 Judicial Appointment Guidelines and the 2016 National Judicial Policy prioritize and promote values of transparency, openness, merit and the availability of equal opportunity to all persons interested in judicial offices.
”Both instruments intend, in other words, to provide a level playing field for all eligible persons interested in serving in judicial offices, whether they are currently serving as judges/justices, are in private practice or in academic institutions of learning,” the group stated.
In June, President Buhari made a request for the appointment of more Supreme Court judges, prompting the chief justice of Nigeria and the Federal Judicial Service Commission to begin the process for the recruitment and appointment of additional judges of the apex court.
Access to Justice said it made repeated attempts to ascertain the extent of compliance of the respondents with the 2014 National Judicial Council Guidelines for the Appointment of Judicial Officers using the Freedom of Information Act but without success.
”The respondents failed to respond to enquiries relating to the process adopted for the selection of potential appointees,” the group said.
”The Federal Judicial Service Commission chose to conduct its recruitment in an opaque and unaccountable manner, in outright violation of the 2014 Appointment Guidelines.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...