The National Judicial Council (NJC) has ordered that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo be sworn-in as the Justice of the Court of Appeal, ending the controversy over her state of origin and marriage.
The NJC in a press statement released on Wednesday, and signed by the council’s Deputy Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, stated that the council “unanimously decided that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo, be sworn-in.”
A petition had allowed the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukthar, to suspend the swearing in of Justice Jombo-Ofo with other 11 newly appointed Justices for the Court of Appeal because the petition claimed she was getting the appointment for a state which was not her state of origin but that of her spouse.
The petition alleged that Justice Jombo-Ofo was falsely representing Abia State, having hailed from Anambra but married to a citizen of Abia State.
But in announcing its decision, the NJC observed that the binding principles and formulae for the distribution of all Cadres of Posts (S.I.23 of 1997) provides in Part II, Section 2 as follows ʺA married woman shall continue to lay claim to her State of origin for the purpose of implementation of the Federal Character formulae at the National level.”
The NJC further noted that the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the NJC, being federal executive bodies established in pursuance of Section 153 (1I) of the 1999 Constitution are bound and obliged to observe and obey the provisions of the constitutional law of the federal republic of Nigeria, including the Federal Character Commission Act.
It therefore directed that “the legislative, executive bodies and government agencies involved in her appointment to obey the stipulations of the law and the provisions in the Nigerian constitution relating to such matters.”
The council commended the CJN for “exercising sufficient caution, diligence and maturity in the matter, especially in the light of the documents, materials and other information available to her, and for taking the decision to put on hold the swearing-in of Justice Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.”
The CJN had on the 5th November, written President Goodluck Jonathan to inform him that the matter of the non-swearing in of Justice Jombo-ofo, would be tabled before the NJC.