From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The controversy that trailed the appointment of Justices of the Court of Appeal has taken another dimension with a call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to cancel the appointments.
In a petition to the CJN dated January 25, 2021, an NGO, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), described the process of the appointment as lacking in transparency and due process.
The petition was addressed to the Chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), who also doubles as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammad.
In the said petition signed by Esther Wuese Iorhuna, Compliance Officer, the group said at all times material to its existence, the Commission must be seen to be playing the role of appointment, promotion and discipline of judicial staff in an effective, efficient and trustworthy manner to ensure fair and proper administration of justice to the Nigerian populace.
It called on the Chairman of Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), National Judicial Council (NJC), Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Director-General of Department of State Services (DSS) as well as other relevant stakeholders in the justice sector to rise to the occasion by cancelling the entire process leading to the recent emergence of certain persons as Justices of the Court of Appeal.
The petition reads in part, ”Our Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) is aggrieved to note that the Federal Judicial Service Commission (simply called the “FJSC” or “Commission”) under your leadership has decided to recklessly desecrate the Judiciary, which should be the last hope of the common man. Suffice it to state that Nigerians, particularly, those who followed events at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court last year are yet to recover from the shocks as a result of the shabby appointment of Judges done.
”We recall that it took the timely intervention of Mr President before the anomaly created by the said appointment could be remedied. Today, we are again faced with a worse situation where the FJSC has decided to conduct another appointment exercise for Justices of the Court of Appeal, which many observers describe as a fraudulent, obscure, biased and apparent violation of due process.
”The enormity of the irregularities have attracted attention and controversy by the general public as reported in many national dailies including THISDAY Newspaper of January 25th, 2021 and many reliable online media including THE CABLE of the same day. (Copies of which are hereby attached).
”As a law-centric organization, we strongly believe that the Judiciary should lead the efforts of redeeming Nigeria from the manacles of corruption, poverty, insecurity and hopelessness that have become insignia by which our country was identified in the international community before fate catapulted President Buhari into the cockpit of power on 29th May 2015.
”Unfortunately, what we see in the past few months in our Judiciary can best be described as a complete deviation from the issues that unite Nigerians to those that are meant to split the country into pieces for selfish political interests. We are convinced that the recent appointment of Justices of the Court of Appeal, if not reversed as a matter of urgency, will continue to offend the Federal Character Principle enshrined in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Let it be on record that we shall resist any attempt by narcissist elements within and outside the Judiciary to assail and defile our sacrosanct Constitution.
”Of paramount importance is the onus placed on the FJSC to ensure that qualified men and women of proven integrity and character are appointed as heads of Federal Courts in the country. We hereby submit that the recent appointment of persons as Justices of the Court of Appeal was done on ethnic, religious and primordial basis and, therefore, far from the expectation of the overwhelming population of Nigerians who indeed hate injustice.
”This will be against the backdrop of the fine provisions of Guidelines and Procedural Rules for Appointment of Judicial Officers into Superior Courts in Nigeria, 2015 which remains binding on both the FJSC and NJC. Whilst anticipating that you will heed the voice of reason by doing the needful upon receipt of this letter, kindly accept the assurances of our highest regards.”