The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem has distanced herself from media reports suggesting that she had a list of preferred candidates in relation to the proposed appointment of justices to the Court of Appeal.
Justice Dongban-Mensem who described the reports as the handiwork of enemies of the judiciary, explained that the exercise passed through the normal processes of appointment into the judiciary.
This was contained in a statement she personally signed in reaction to the media reports.
“I am compelled to denounce and dispel the campaign of calumny which has been going on for some weeks now about the proposed appointment of justices to the Court of Appeal.”
“Let it be known also that the current exercise passed through the due and usual process of appointment into the Judiciary.”
“A total of 80 nominees were shortlisted and recommended for the appointment of 20 justices to fill the existing vacancies. I state on my honour that any of the 80 nominees could be appointed.”
“It is unfortunate that some people have elected to go to the press without hard facts which are readily available to those who seek to know.”
“I hereby state that the current recommendation pending determination by the National Judicial Council (NJC) was done without any preference for tribe, creed or association. If there were sufficient vacancies to be filled, all the nominees would have been recommended.”
“I hereby totally disassociate myself from those who are insinuating that I had a list of preferred candidates based on tribe or religion. This is clearly the hand work of detractors who want to destabilize the Judiciary.”
Only recently, four regional groups representing the southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has accused some perceived politicians at the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) of compromising the list of nominated candidates for appointment of Court of Justices of the Court of Appeal.
The groups are therefore demanding that the list be trashed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for the original list prepared by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem.
According to the regional groups, the action of the FJSC followed the rejection of the merit list submitted to the Commission by the President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Monica Dongban- Mensem.
It is the constitutional responsibility of the President of the Court of Appeal to scrutinize candidates and present a list of competent and qualified candidates to the FJSC for consideration and onward transmission to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for appointment.
In a statement on Monday, the groups said they are surprised that the 20 candidates on preferred list picked from the north are all Muslims.
The statement was jointly signed by Yinka Odumakin for the South West; Chief Guy Ikoku (South East); Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) respectively.
The statement reads: “The list was said to have been allegedly compromised by politicians at the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
This was also said to been consequent upon the rejection of the merit list submitted to the Commission by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem. It is part of the constitutional responsibilities of the PCA to scrutinize candidates and present a list of competent and qualified candidates to FJSC for consideration and onward transmission to the National Judicial Council for appointment.
The regions said “it’s quite surprising that of the 20 candidates on preferred list, all the candidates picked from the North excluded Christians and with three khadis on board for a court that needs experts in various areas of law, including customary law. The list of the PCA was said to have reflected all such needs but whimsically overturned at the FJSC under the guise of Federal Character.