Access to Justice seeks public input in judicial appointment
Access to Justice has called for public input in judicial appointments, saying such is of high public interest and have significant consequences for the general public.
The group said where the judiciary starts off on the wrong foot, it is the public who will bear and suffer the consequences of its errors of judgment, adding that the process should not be shrouded in mystery.It said: “The public has an interest and should be able, at the very least, to provide a feedback to appointing authorities on the suitability of proposed nominees.”
The group stated this against the backdrop that the National Judicial Council (NJC), has reportedly sent out a list of persons nominated for judicial appointments to the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal to the President on which the President has also reportedly, ordered background checks on the recommended candidates.
In a statement signed by the Director, Joseph Otteh, the group pointed out that no information is available to the public about who those recommended for those appointments are.
“Once the recommendations are accepted by the President of Nigeria, the nominees are sworn in, and the process is completed and cannot be reversed. “Such feedbacks are potentially useful interventions; they can enhance the quality of the appointment process and save the Judiciary from taking decisions that will ultimately bring ridicule and embarrassment to it”.
“In December 2017, the NJC recommended the retirement of Justice Segun Tokode for what the Council said was misconduct on his part in submitting false qualifying credentials during his screening for judicial office.
“It is important to recall that the misconduct complained of in this case occurred before Justice Tokode was appointed, not after. If the Judiciary had invited public scrutiny of Justice Tokode and his background, it is possible the fallacious entries on his application would have been discovered and his appointment would have been pre-empted,” the group reasoned.