Justice Olusegun Tokode, who was removed from the Federal High Court’s bench in December 2017, will be replaced on Tuesday with a petitioner who exposed an alleged irregularity in his appointment.
According to the Punch Newspaper, a copy of the letter by the National Judicial Council addressed to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, indicating that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the appointment of the petitioner, Ms Abimbola Awogboro, to replace Tokode.
Awogboro, along with the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, had faulted Tokode’s appointment in a petition sent to the NJC, leading to his removal in December 2017.
The NJC’s letter to Justice Abdu-Kafarati, dated October 5, 2018, indicated that Awogboro would be sworn-in at the chambers of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of NJC, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Tuesday (today).
Titled, Re: Appointment of one Federal High Court judge, the letter signed by the Secretary of NJC, Mr Ahmed Saleh, on behalf of the CJN, read in part, “I have been directed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Hon. Mr Justice Walter Onnoghen, GCON, to inform you that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, has approved the appointment of Ms. Abimbola Awogboro as a judge of the Federal High Court.
“In accordance with the provision of 290 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, you are to kindly request the candidate to declare her assets and liabilities.
“The candidate will be sworn-in on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 by 10am in his lordship’s chambers.
“Your lordship may wish to notify the candidate, please.”
Awogboro was not part of the nine newly appointed judges of the Federal High Court.
Tokode was appointed to the Federal High Court bench in December 2015.
But Awogboro and SERAP, in a petition sent against him, accused him of making false claims to the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the NJC over his eligibility for appointment as a judge.
He was said to have submitted six court judgments in six cases, which he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer.
But Awogboro and her co-petitioner alleged in their petition that only one of the cases, in which the judgments submitted by Tokode were delivered, was truly conducted by him.
The NJC said the submission of six judgments to the FJSC and NJC was a prerequisite for application for appointment as a judge.
Following its findings, the NJC not only recommended his removal from office, it ordered him to refund the salaries and allowances he had earned since his “purported appointment to the position of a judge” to the coffers of the judiciary.
But Tokode has since filed two suits to challenge his removal from office.
While one of the suits has been struck out, the other is still pending in court.