Appointment Of Judges: SANs Appeal Against September Judgement

By Simdi Gloria:-

The Justice Reform Project Foundation, a group of mainly senior advocates of Nigeria lawyers has appealed against the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja on 30th September 2020 which had dismissed their suit opposing the appointment of 21 persons on a list of 33 candidates nominated as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

Out of the list of 33 candidates recommended to him by the National Judicial Council in April this year, the President, Muhammadu Buhari picked 11 without saying anything about the fate of the rest.

The 11 appointed candidates have since been sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.

The plaintiff had described the recommendation of 21 of the recommended candidates as unsuitable.

Mrs. Funke Adekoya (SAN), the Chairman of the Governing Board of the JRP Foundation, stated in the affidavit filed in support of the group’s suit that the NJC’s recommendation was marred by “impropriety, anomalies and procedural irregularities”.

Defendants in the suit are Buhari, the NJC, the Judicial Service Committee of the FCT, the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the nominees.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, on September 30 had earlier dismissed the suit on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter which he described as labor-related and ought to be heard by instituted at the National Industrial Court. Adding also that the plaintiff lacked locus standi, the legal right, to institute the suit to challenge the process of appointment of the judges.

JRP filed five grounds of appeal against the judgement on November 24, 2020.

The appellant argued among others that Justice Abang “misdirected himself in law” by allegedly misconstruing its prayers as labour-related.

It also argued that the judge erred in law “by isolating and determining only the issue of jurisdiction of the Federal High Court thereby denying the appellant a fair hearing”.

The appellant, which stated that its principal objective “is to promote justice and rule of law as tools for social and economic reform in Nigeria” argued that the trial judge erred in law when it held that it lacks locus standi to institute this action.

The Court of Appeal has fixed December 8 for record settlements.

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