A former Ikeja Branch chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr Dave Ajetomobi has faulted those who criticise President Muhammadu Buhari for delaying the confirmation of judges.
He said the president should be allowed to take his time so as to get the appointments rights.
NBA President Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), speaking at the association’s quarterly National Executive Committee (NEC), had threatened that the association would sue the President for not confirming the judges.
He said more than six months after the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended 13 judges for elevation as Court of Appeal, and others for appointment to high court benches, the President was yet to act.
“Acting on the recommendations of the NJC is not a matter of presidential discretion to be exercised whenever the President deems fit. It is a constitutional duty. While the President is not bound to accept the recommendations, failure to act is a breach of the Constitution …
“I, therefore, wish to give notice of the intention of the NBA to take legal action should this constitutional dereliction continue,” Mahmoud said.
But Ajetomobi believes the President should be given time to double-check on the nominees.
“This government’s main agenda is that of anti-corruption, and a vibrant and efficient judiciary is needed for a successful prosecution of the anti-graft war. A sincere watcher of our justice sector will agree that that sector has not particularly impressed many people of late.
“I believe that, contrary to the position held by the NBA and NJC, the President has power to double-check on any nominee of the NJC. We have to concede that NJC is not infallible!”
He recalled that the NJC had in the past recommended a person who plagiarised other’s judgments, gave a judge a clean bill of health before later sanctioning him, and transferred a judge it found guilty of misconduct to another division instead of dismissing her.
Ajetomobi added: “The Eso Report mentioned a particular person in Delta State who became a branch chairman of NBA and later became a judge. It was later revealed that the man did not even attend university talk less of being a lawyer. How was the man able to pass through NJC screening?
“Recently, a candidate from Lagos was considered for appointment to a federal court. He happened to be one of the magistrates dismissed in Lagos when the Vice-President was the Attorney-General.
“There are other instances where NJC has shown some fallibility. After all, it is a body composed of humans who are fallible!
“I want to believe that Mr. President’s men are doing due diligence on the list to ensure that only the right people are picked.
“It is all part of the checks and balances provided for in our Constitution. I believe that the Federal Government has a better machinery to carry out thorough background checks than the NJC, which is made up of judges and lawyers.”