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Presidency and appointment of Federal High Court Judges

President Muhammadu Buhari recently send the names of the newly appointed judges of the Federal High Court to the Department of the State Security Services DSS after their recommendation by the National Judicial Council NJC, Michael Ofulue sought the views of some legal practitioners, here are excepts:

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The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended makes clear provisions for the appointments of judicial officers of our various superior courts of records to wit: Chief Justice of Nigeria and other justices of the Supreme Court, President and other Justices of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge and other judges of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge and other Judges of the High Court of the FCT, Chief Judge and other Judges of States High Courts; Grand Kadi and other Kadis of Sharia Court of Appeal of any State that established it and President and other Judges of Customary Court of Appeal of any State that established it.
A community reading of the provisions of Chapter VII (The Judicature) of the 1999 Constitution will shed more light on this. For the purpose of our discourse here we shall limit our scope to the appointments of Judges of the Federal High Court and States High Courts.
Section 250 (1) of the Constitution says appointment of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) subject to confirmation of such appointment by the Senate. Section 250 (2) of the Constitution says that the appointment of a Judge of the Federal High Court shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council. Take notice that the appointment of a Judge of the Federal High Court is not subject to confirmation of the Senate as obtained in the case of a Chief Judge. In similar vein, Section 271 (1) of the Constitution says appointment of Chief Judge of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of the appointment by the House of Assembly of the State. Section 271 (2) further provides that appointment of a Judge of a High Court of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.
Take notice again that the appointment of a Judge of a State High Court is not subject to ratification by the State House of Assembly. What could be deduced from the above provisions are: The President has the power to appoint the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court on the recommendation of the NJC. This implies that the president can only appoint person recommended by the NJC. Secondly, it is only the appointment of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court that is subject to confirmation of the Senate and not the appointment of JUDGES of the Federal High Court.
In the case of a Chief Judge of a State High Court, the Governor of the State is empowered to appoint the Chief Judge and other Judges on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council. It also connotes that the Governor can only appoint person recommended by the NJC. It is also the provision of the Constitution that only the appointment of the Chief Judge of a State is subject to confirmation of the State House of Assembly and not appointment of JUDGES. Similar provisions are there for the FCT High Court. It is therefore an illegal act for the President to have sent names of Judges either of the Federal High Court or High Court of the FCT to the Senate for confirmation. It is only the appointment of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court that the president shall send to the Senate for confirmation and not Judges of those courts.
On the role of DSS in the appointment of judicial officers, I want to say without any fear of contradiction that the Constitution does not give the security outfit any role to play in such appointments. But one will be right to say that the DSS has a pivotal role to play in accordance with extant law that established the security agency. This is because the office of a Judge is a very sensitive one and it is important that persons to be appointed as Judges must be persons of impeccable character. The DSS as a security watchdog can provide vital security intelligence about a person to be appointed as a judicial officer. For example a person who is found to be corrupt will not be suitable to be appointed as a Judge.
The DSS can make available such intelligent report about him to the NJC and the Governor in order to guide them in the process leading to the appointment. In my humble opinion, it is not unconstitutional for the DSS to play such role in the appointment of Judges.

 

Mr. Gidado

Speaking with the Hope classic Mr Abdlrahman Gidado an Ilorin base legal practitioner said.
the law is unambiguous as Constitution provides that the appointment of federal High court Judge is made by president but the NJC must recommend names for president appointment. Section 250(2) CFRN
[9/28, 4:27 PM] Barr Gidado Ilorin Base: Although, there may be some complaints of Nepotism or non compliance with federal character policy and the likes, the fact is still around whether those appointed are qualified and the process in line with rules of law.

 

Chief Ogiren

Also speaking Chief Helecious Ogiren Said President Buhari is making mockery of the judiciary. In the first place the numbers of justices of the Supreme court ought to be 21 in accordance with section 230 (2) (b) of the CFRN 1999 but despite the nomination and recommendation of the NJC in accordance with Section 231 of the organic law, president sent the names of the four nominees to DSS which is unknown to the law of our country. With respect to the NBA there silence is the reason why Mr. Present is bold to repeat this mistake of sending the names of the judges of the Federal High Court recommended by NJC to the DSS.
This is an aberation and a rape on the rules of law. It’s also an attempt by the other arms of government to ridicule and disrupt the automative system of the judiciary. This is what all lawyers and ministers in the temple of justice must randomly condemned.

 

 

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