Lagos – Human rights lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo, on Wednesday criticized the call for the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the Justices of the Supreme Court from the bar, saying it will generate a lot of politics and lobbying in the bar.
He said in a statement in Lagos there was no constitutional restriction as to where the appointees into the bench could be picked from except the criteria of 15 years post-call as a barrister and solicitor.
Keyamo spoke against the backdrop of a recent clamour for the appointment of senior members of the bar to the offices of the CJN and the Justices of the Supreme Court in a bid to add “vibrancy to the bench.”
He said by virtue of Section 231 of the 1999 Constitution the President, the Senate President and the National Judicial Commission (NJC) were saddled with the responsibility of appointing individuals into those offices.
“Traditionally, over the years, Justices of the Supreme Court have been elevated from the Court of Appeal and the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court has always been appointed the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“There are only two instances in the past where the CJN has been picked from outside the Supreme Court.
“These are the cases of Justices Adetokunbo Ademola and Teslim Elias,” he said.
Keyamo said the appointment of lawyers from the bar into the Supreme Court would generate what he called intense lobbying and politics.
“In this era of deeply divided political interests, any attempt to introduce politics into the appointment of the CJN will inevitably introduce deep divisions and rancour in the Supreme Court.
“It will also compromise the independence and integrity of the Supreme Court, ” said the Lagos lawyer in the statement.
Keyamo believed that lawyers appointed into the Supreme Court from the bar would find it hard to adjust to a “salaried lifestyle’’.
“Successful lawyers are used to earning fat fees from big briefs. How easy would it then be for a very successful lawyer appointed straight to the Supreme Court or as CJN to adjust to earning a relatively meager salary and adjusting to this spartan lifestyle? ”