April 8, 2020

Group faults NJC over Judges’ seniority protocol in Enugu State


By Anayo Okoli

A group, Igbo Oriental Think-tank, IOT, has been contesting the seniority protocol of Judges in Enugu State, saying that it is irregular.

According to the group, after the State Chief Judge, the second in seniority should be Justice Anthony Okechukwu Onovo.

But according to the National Judicial Council, NJC, protocol, Justice Onovo is the fourth in seniority.

The NJC’s had to make its position known on the issue following a petition by one of the Judges, Hon. Justice A. R. Ozoemena protesting the seniority protocol of Judges in the State.

Also read: Court strikes out case against cleric over private varsity in Enugu community

NJC explained that Judges’ seniority protocol ranking is determined on the date the Judges were called to bar as lawyers

In the NJC protocol list of the most senior judges in Enugu State, Justice N.P. Emehelu, who was called to bar in 1981 is the most senior,  followed by Justice A. R. Ozoemena, who was called to bar in   1983; Justice R. N. Onuorah, called to bar in1984 and Justice A. O. Onovo called bar in1987.

However, the group faulted NJC’s position, saying that it was contrary to seniority and ranking of judges in Enugu state, based on extant High Court Rules of Enugu state.

At a press briefing in Enugu, the group said it noted that in the course of its “advocacy and drive for equity, fairness, brotherliness and foster unity among the contending nationalities in Nigeria, especially among the peoples of the South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria, especially Enugu State”.

According to its Coordinating Secretary, Dr Kenneth Anozie, “we took a study of it, with relevant instant laws as our guide.

“Our objective was to unravel the truth, and ensure that the Rule of Law is followed to the letter in other to ensure equity and justice”.

The group argued that seniority protocol should rather be determined by which of the Judges took the oath of office first even in a situation they were appointed and sworn-in the same day as in the instant case.