The current Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Kafarati, will retire in 16 days, a development that may throw up an acting chief judge to head the court pending the completion of the process for the appointment of a successor.
The PUNCH learnt the National Judicial Council was planning to meet to pick his successor, but the full process of the appointment which requires the Senate confirmation might not be completed before his retirement.
The National Assembly will embark on its annual recess which usually lasts for about two months on July 26.
Kafarati’s bio on the website of the court only reveals his year of birth as 1954. But inquiries by our correspondent revealed he was born on July 25, 1954.
This implies that he will attain the mandatory retirement age of 65 on July 25, which is 16 days away from today (Tuesday).
Favoured by the succession-by-seniority convention in the Nigerian judiciary, Justice John Tsoho, who is the next in line to the outgoing chief judge, is the most likely to succeed him.
Our correspondent learnt that the Federal Judicial Service Commission had shortlisted Justice Tsoho and the next person to her, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, and forwarded their names to the NJC.
If appointed, Justice Tsoho, who was born on June 24, 1959 in Mbaduku in Benue State, will have five years as the chief judge.
On her part, Justice Olatoregun, born in Ibadan, Oyo State, on November 9, 1954 is to retire in November this year.
It was also gathered that the NJC is already preparing to hold a plenary to consider the two candidates one of whom it would recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment.
“The NJC is definitely going to meet before Justice Kafarati’s retirement but for now, no specific date has been fixed,” a top judiciary source told our correspondent on Sunday.
Section 250 of the Constitution requires the NJC to nominate a candidate for the office of the chief judge of the Federal High Court to the President who will make the appointment after Senate’s confirmation.
The section also empowers the President to appoint the most senior judge of the court as the acting chief judge for a period of three months after which subsequent appointments of the person in acting capacity must be with the approval of the NJC.