Judges’ Appointment: Court of Appeal President Counters NBA President

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The President of the Court of Appeal, Monica Dongban-Mensem, on Tuesday, faulted recent critical comments of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, about the ongoing process of appointing 18 judges for her court.

Ms Dongban-Mensem, who spoke at a webinar organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said contrary to Mr Akpata’s assertion, there was nothing wrong with appointing judges in anticipation that they would learn on the job.

Mr Akpata had recently criticised the shoddiness of the interview conducted for the candidates by the National Judicial Council (NJC), which he said hurriedly interviewed 20 nominees within two hours.

The NBA president, a member of the NJC who was participating in the council’s interview of judicial nominees for the first time, also expressed shock that “Important legal issues that were occasionally put to the nominees could not be answered”.

He said he heard things like “they will learn on the job” during the interview.

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But speaking at the virtual ‘Roundtable on Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Judgments in the Nigerian Legal System’ organised by PACAC, Ms Dongban-Mensem said it was normal for judges to learn on the job, as applicable to other types of job.

She said, “Somebody said there is room for learning and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association took offence that somebody said that people will learn on the job. Who doesn’t learn on the job?

“Professor Sagay, did you know everything you should do when you were appointed as chairman of PACAC? Has he not learnt some things? Has he not started looking at some other things differently?”

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She said the inability of a judge to answer a question on a particular subject was not sufficient grounds to deny ”that person the opportunity of being elevated to a higher court’s bench”.

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