By Alex Enumah
A civil society group has petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, seeking the cancellation of the recent appointment of some Justices into the bench of the Court of Appeal.
The group, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), in a protest letter dated January 25, 2021, and addressed to the Chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), Justice Muhammad, who also doubles as the CJN, claimed that the process of the appointment lacked transparency and due process.
In the petition signed by the group Compliance Officer, Esther Iorhuna, GICN stated that at all times material to its existence, the commission must be seen to be playing the role of appointment, promotion and discipline of judicial staff in an effective and trustworthy manner to ensure fair and proper administration of justice to the Nigerian populace.
They, therefore, called on the Chairman of Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), National Judicial Council (NJC), Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Director-General of Department of State Services (DSS) as well as other relevant stakeholders in the justice sector to rise to the occasion by cancelling the entire process leading to the recent emergence of some certain persons as Justices of the Court of Appeal.
The petition read in part: “Our Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) is aggrieved to note that the Federal Judicial Service Commission (simply called the FJSC or Commission) under your leadership has decided to recklessly desecrate the judiciary, which should be the last hope of the common man. Suffice it to state that Nigerians, particularly those who followed events at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court last year, are yet to recover from the shocks as a result of shabby appointment of Judges.
‘’We recall that it took the timely intervention of the president before the anomaly created by the said appointment could be remedied.
“Today, we are again faced with a worse situation where the FJSC has decided to conduct another appointment exercise for Justices of the Court of Appeal, which many observers describe as fraudulent, obscure, biased and apparent violation of due process.”
According to the letter, “The enormity of the irregularities have attracted attention and controversy by the public going by report in many national dailies, including THISDAY of January 25, 2021, and many reliable online media like The Cable of the same date.
‘’As a law-centric organisation, we strongly believe that the judiciary should lead the efforts of redeeming Nigeria from the manacles of corruption, poverty, insecurity and hopelessness that have become insignia by which our country was identified in the international community before fate catapulted President Muhammadu Buhari into the cockpit of power on May 29, 2015.
‘’Unfortunately, what we see in the past few months in our judiciary can best be described as a complete deviation from the issues that unite Nigerians to those that are meant to split the country into pieces for selfish political interests. We are convinced that the recent appointment of Justices of the Court of Appeal, if not reversed as a matter of urgency, will continue to offend the Federal Character Principle enshrined in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria . Let it be on record that we shall resist any attempt by narcissist elements within and outside the judiciary to assail and defile our sacrosanct constitution.”