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Group prays court to stop appointment of FCT judges by Buhari

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The Justice Reform Project (JRP) a group comprising senior lawyers has asked a Federal High Court, Abuja to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari from appointing 21 lawyers as judges of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as recently recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Other respondents in the suit, apart from the President, who is the 1st defendant are the NJC (2nd defendant), the Judicial Service Committee of the FCT, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the 21 nominees.

The group is praying the court to grant a perpetual injunction stopping the President from approving the appointment of the 21 persons, as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja because they failed to meet conditions for such appointment.

JRP, which was set up in February 2019 comprises not less than 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, including Kayode Sofola, Tani Molajo, Funke Adekoya, Oluwafemi Atoyebi, and Adeyemi Candide-Johnson, Olasupo Shasore, vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun among others.

The plaintiff also wants the court to decide whether, the NJC or the judicial service committee of the FCT, has the power to recommend for appointment as judges, any person who neither meets the criteria nor satisfy the conditions laid down in the extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the Appointment of Judicial Officers in Nigeria.

The group is seeking a declaration of the court that the 5th to 25th defendants are not suitable persons for appointment as judges, having failed to meet the criteria and satisfy the conditions set out in the extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules.

It is also asking for an order setting aside the recommendation of the 2nd defendant to the 1st defendant for the appointment of the 5th to 25th defendants as judges of the High Court of the FCT.

In a 24 paragraph-affidavit sworn to by the chairman of the JRP governing board, Mrs. Olufunke Adekoya (SAN), the group says, “it is concerned about the dysfunctional justice system in Nigeria” and it has therefore embarked on a mission to restore and sustain the integrity of the judiciary in order to regain public confidence in the dispensation of justice in the Nigerian courts.

The deponent averred that they are aggrieved by the “unjustifiable recommendations made by the 2nd defendant to the 1st defendant for the appointment of 5th to 25th defendants as judges of the FCT, Abuja and has, as such, filed this action to challenge same.”The suit has been assigned to Justice Okon Abang and would be heard on July 10, 2020.

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