The absence of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, stalled hearing in a suit challenging the National Judicial Council (NJC) from nominating 21 out of the 33 persons for appointment as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Justice Abang had, on July 17, fixed Tuesday for the hearing of all pending motions in the originating summon with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/602/2020 filed by JRP Foundation Ltd/GTE.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while the NJC is the 2nd defendant, the Judicial Service Committee of the FCT, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), and the 21 nominees are the 3rd to 25th defendants respectively.
Although counsel to the parties were in court on Tuesday, the presiding judge, Abang, was absent.
The matter was, however, fixed for Sept. 29 for hearing of pending motions, especially the application for virtual hearing of the suit dated July 9 and filed by plaintiff counsel, Osaro Eghobamien, SAN.
Eghobamien based his arguments for virtual hearing of the suit on the grounds that the Supreme Court, recently, held that the online hearing of cases is constitutional.
The lawyer, who urged the court to adopt virtual hearing of the case, argued that the system would help to enhance quick dispensation of justice in the matter, besides ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines.
The applicant, about 15 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and some senior members of the bar, had on July 2, approached the court.
They asked the court to declare “that in its exercise of its constitutional duties to recommend suitable persons to the 2nd defendant as judges of High Court of FCT, Abuja, the 3rd defendant must only recommend such persons as have met the criteria and satisfied the conditions set out in the extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers in Nigeria made by the 2nd defendant.
“That in exercising its constitutional duties to recommend to the 1st defendant (The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria), from the list submitted by the 3rd defendant, persons to be appointed judges of High Court of FCT, Abuja, the 2nd defendant can only recommend such persons as have met the criteria and satisfied the conditions set out in its extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers in Nigeria.
“That the 5th to 25th defendants, having failed to meet the criteria and satisfied the conditions set out in the extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers in Nigeria, are not suitable persons for nomination for appointment as judges of High Court of the FCT, Abuja, within the purview of Paragraph 2(1) of Part III of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999,” among other prayers.