Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately confirm the appointment of Hon Justice Monica Bolna’an Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal in the interest of justice.
In a statement signed by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Guy Ikokwu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) the forum, reacting to the open letter to the president by Col Abubakar Umar called on the president to do the right thing so as to dispel the fears that ethnic and religious factors now play roles in judicial appointments.
The Forum stated:
‘Having read the open letter by Col Abubakar Umar, we are constrained to call on President Buhari to immediately confirm Justice Mensem as the substantive President of the Court of Appeal without going through another acting term.
‘We are not interfering in the judiciary, we are only calling out the President to do the right thing so as to dispel the fears that ethnic and religious factors now play roles in judicial appointments.
‘We are appealing to the Justice, who is next in line, to know that becoming Appeal Court President under this circumstance would be infra dig as it would be seen as a reward for being on the panel that ruled in favour of President Buhari in the last election petition.
‘The path of honour we recommend here was toed by judges of honour in Kogi State recently when the number two and three refused to accept being made number one in controversial circumstances. The Chief Judge served out his tenure.
‘President Buhari should save the government the possibility of such a situation by confirming who was recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) immediately.
‘We use this medium to reject the shameful manipulation of appointment figures by a newspaper to make a feeble rebuttal of Col Abubakar Umar’s patriotic memo. It was most unhelpful to the reputation of journalism.’
The former military administrator of Kaduna State, Col Abubakar Umar (retd), had on Sunday said that Nigeria has become dangerously polarised and risk sliding into crisis on account of President Buhari’s lopsided appointments which he said continues to give undue preference to some sections of the country over others.
In an open letter addressed to the president, the former governor urged President Buhari to approve the confirmation of the acting president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mensem, or risk being accused of favouring only northern Muslims for sensitive positions.
Making reference to the case of the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Walter Onnoghen, who resigned and was replaced by the current head of the apex court, Justice Tanko Mohammed, Umar warned against a recurrence of such a scenario.