By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, will on Monday, swear-in 18 Justices into the Court of Appeal bench.
It will be recalled that following recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC, President Muhammadu Buhari, in April, approved the appointment of 18 new justices for the Court of Appeal.
Swearing in of the new Justices was however stalled as a result of the over two-month strike action the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, embarked on to demand for fiscal autonomy for the judiciary.
A group under the eagis of the Incorporated Trustees of Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, equally went to court to challenge the exclusion of the South East zone in the appointment.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/347/2021, the Plaintiff, asked the court to determine whether; “Having regard to the oath of office of the Defendants to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and the true intendment of Section 14 (3) and other relevant provisions of the Constitution, whether the Defendants can completely ignore, disregard or infringe at will the principles of justice, fairness, equity, due process and federal character in the on-going exercise of appointment of Justices of the Court of Appeal, particularly with regard to the South East Zone of the Federation.
As well as, “Having regard to the principles of equity and good conscience and the true intendment and purpose of the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, is the South East Zone of the Federation not entitled in the on-going exercise of appointment of justices of the Court of Appeal to 3 (three) new slots in the bench of the Court in direct replacement of the vacancies occasioned and existing in the bench of the Court arising from the elevation, retirement and death of three justices of the Court from that Zone”.
The Plaintiff, among other things, sought an order, “restraining the Defendants, especially the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants from continuing the on-going exercise of appointment”.
Likewise, “An Order of the Honourable Cort compelling the Defendants to replace or fill the three vacancies in the South East slots in the Court of Appeal bench by appointing three new Justices of the Court in the on-going appointment exercise in direct replacement or filling of the three existing vacancies in the South East slots”.
Cited as 1st to 5th Defendants in the matter are the National Judicial Council, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, President of the Court of Appeal, Federal Character Commission and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The suit was, however, dismissed as lacking in merit by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, thus paving way for swearing in of the new Justices.
Meanwhile, among those to be sworn in on Monday is Justice Adebukola Banjoko of Abuja High Court who had on May 30, 2018, sentenced the former Governor of Taraba state, Jolly Nyame to a maximum of 14 years without an option of fine.
Similarly, on June 12, 2018, Justice Banjoko convicted former Governor of Plateau state, Joshua Dariye and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation.
Others to be sworn in are Justices Mohammed Danjuma (Niger State); Muhammad Ibrahim Sirajo (Plateau); Abdul-Azeez Waziri (Adamawa); Yusuf A. Bashir (Taraba); Usman A. Musale (Yobe); Ibrahim Wakili Jauro (Yobe); Abba Bello Mohammed (Kano); Bature Isah Gafai (Katsina); Danlami Zama Senchi (Kebbi); Mohammed Lawal Abubakar (Sokoto); Hassan Muslim Sule (Zamfara)
Hassan Muslim Sule (Zamfara); Kenneth Ikechukwu Amadi (Imo); Peter Oyinkenimiemi Affen (Bayelsa); Sybil Onyeji Gbagi (Delta); Olasunbo Goodluck (Lagos); Adebukola Banjoko (Ogun); Olabode Adegbehingbe (Ondo) and Bola Samuel Ademola (Ondo).