The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, fixed June 25 for judgment in a suit filed by a group against the National Judicial Council (NJC), over alleged lopsidedness in the recent appointment of Appeal Court justices.
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after parties in the matter adopted their processes in relation to the suit.
The group, the Incorporated Trustees of Alaigbo Development Foundation, had also sued the Federal Judicial Service Commission, President of the Court of Appeal, Federal Character Commission (FCC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as second to fifth defendants, respectively.
The plaintiff, while adopting its processes, prayed Justice Ekwo to stop the appointment of the justices on the grounds that the SouthEast region had been marginalised in the selection.
The group, through its lawyer, Max Ozoaka, argued that the exercise done by the NJC violated the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as a result of its lopsidedness.
Ozoaka alleged that the principles of the Federal Character was breached in the way and manner the new Appeal Court justices were nominated and subsequently urged the judge to nullify the exercise.
But counsel to the NJC (first defendant), Paul Usoro, SAN, while arguing his preliminary objection, prayed Justice Ekwo to decline jurisdiction in the matter on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked locus standi (legal right) to institute the action.
Usoro told the court that the plaintiff was an Igbo socio-cultural organisation and that the aims and objectives of the group did not include instituting cases of public interest. The senior lawyer further disagreed on the premise that photocopies of certificates of incorporation of the group certified by a court registrar were tendered.
He averred that only officials of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) were empowered to certify such documents and urged the court to dismiss the case.
Corroborating Usoro’s argument, counsel to the second and third defendants, Y. C. Maikyau, SAN, urged the court to refuse to entertain the matter. He argued that Section 20 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) did not permit the group to embark on instituting such an action.