JUDICIARY NEWS 20/11/2023
Questions Raised Over Supreme Court List
The nomination of 22 justices for Supreme Court appointment is raising the dust in the judiciary.
This is because some senior serving and retired justices are at daggers drawn over the list released by the Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC, last Thursday.
A senior Justice told press that President Bola Tinubu may be heading towards direct confrontation with a wider section of senior members of the Nigerian bench, saying that “never in the history of Nigeria has appointment of Supreme Court justices been this politicized.”
Another Justice said the case of North-Central zone where the son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN was slated as a priority while a senior jurist with over 15 years experience in the Court of Appeal, is placed as reserve, is controversial.
The Justice added that the strangest of the ongoing process is that “the South-South slot where the person adjudged as the very best is curiously pencilled as reserve.
Sources said that during the processing phase, the Justice placed as priority was not short-listed among the four that were sent to the FJSC.
“The question many in the Judicial circle are asking is: how did someone who did not make the short-list suddenly emerge as priority over and above the person adjudged to be the best,” the source asked.
The source disclosed that for the South-South, the Justice placed as reserve now was the priority candidate in 2019 but was dropped then because he was considered to be too young at 53, adding: “How did he suddenly drop four years after when he has been rated so highly? Anyone who wants to check the quality of the Justices can go to the Law Pavilion, which is the electronic law report and see which Justice of the Court Appeal has the highest ratio. The person placed as reserve has the highest ratio.”
In the North-West, some Justices wondered how Justice AB Gumel was dropped from the list “despite being the number one on the list of jurists from his zone.”
In the South-West, the source said a justice who was a reserve candidate in 2019 is still on the reserve list while a justice who had never made the short-list was placed as priority.
If not urgently addressed, some senior members of the Nigerian Judiciary feared that the low morale and rancour in the Judiciary would worsen.