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NJC: Why S-East Judges were excluded from Appeal Court Nomination

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NJC has admitted that the list circulating in the media, which excluded judges from South-east and some other states, is not totally fake after all.
Chief Justice of Nigeria [CJN] & Chairman National Judicial Council [NJC], Justice Onnoghen

The National Judicial Council [NJC] has finally admitted that the list circulating in the media, which excluded judges from the South-east and some other states, is not totally fake after all.

NJC, however, clarified on reasons behind the skewed selection saying that in all 12 states will not be considered in the ongoing nomination.

The council, citing “federal character”, said the appointment of 14 justices of the Appeal Court is to bring the total number of judges of the appellate court to 90 as stipulated by law.

It stated, though, that 12 states already have their fair representation of judges at the appellate court.

Speaking, the NJC spokesperson, Mr Soji Oye said:

“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”.

“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.” 

Reacting to Mr Oye’s statement, however, a lawyer with a law firm based in London, the United Kingdom under the platform of “Legal Angle” asked:

“So if there is no Judge from States like Adamawa, Kebbi and Sokoto that are competent enough to be elevated to the Court of Appeal, one must still be found??

Lamenting further, he said: “Methinks there are certain areas of our national life where Federal Character should be jettisoned in favour of merit. 

“One is the Judiciary, the other is National Football team.”

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