Appointment policy on S’Court justices flawed, senior lawyers tell NJC
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN), yesterday, in Abuja, kicked against the appointment policy of justices to the Supreme Court, describing it as flawed.
The senior lawyers told the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body responsible for the appointment of judicial officers in the country, to do away with the current replacement policy, so that the judiciary can grow, alongside the rule of law and dispensation of justice.
In their strongly worded speech delivered at a Valedictory Court Service for retired Justice Abdu Aboki of the Supreme Court, the senior lawyers asked the NJC to also jettison the system whereby justices of the Supreme Court must be promoted from the Court of Appeal.
BoSAN, in a speech delivered by Chief Onomigbo Okpoko (SAN), argued that the system is responsible for the level of mediocrity and incompetence in the judiciary.
He said: “The Body of Senior Advocates takes the firm view that the selection and appointment of justices for appointment to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, on the basis of replacement, is one that cannot result in the appointment of the best lawyers into the appellate courts in the country.”
While stressing that the agitation of BoSAN, in this respect, will not go away any time soon, Okpoko said: “Our submission to the appointing authorities is that the policy of replacement of retiring justices from their place of origin is not sound and should be discarded.
“The NJC, as the appointing authority, should address this issue and appoint the best candidates of our country to man our courts. After all, justice is blind, and so does not look at or see the faces of litigants.
“Justice knows no tribe and has no colour or religion. It has no specified location because it is everywhere. Let no one put on the Nigerian Judiciary the iron clad case of restricting the appointment of our justices in the manner complained of.”
BoSAN also urged NJC to expand the appointment to include the bar and academia, as there are well-qualified persons in that area.
Okpoko, while stressing that the constitutional way of becoming a justice of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court is by appointment and not promotion, listed former justices of the apex court who did exceptionally well but where not initially judges.”
Meanwhile, in his remarks, Justice Aboki (retired), thanked God and all that made his sojourn in the judiciary worthwhile. While he called on the executive arm of government to urgently review the remuneration of judicial officers, Aboki urged the National Assembly to re-enact laws that would reduce the number of cases that get to the apex court.