Judicial Discrimination: NBA President Says He Expects NJC To Do The Right Thing

NBA president-elect, Olumide Apata. Photo: [email protected] Akpata

 

Ahead of Monday’s interview by the National Judicial Council (NJC) Committee for the appointment of a Chief Judge for the Gombe State Judiciary, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata has declared that he “expects the NJC to do the right thing”.

Akpata made the declaration in a telephone interview with Channels Television on Sunday,

Akpata was reacting to news reports that the Gombe State Government had excluded the name of the most senior judge in the state, Justice Beatrice Illiya from the list of names forwarded to the NJC for consideration as appointment for Chief Judge.

Justice Illiya herself had written a petition to the NJC to complain about this exclusion and had copied the NBA in the petition.

In her petition, the most senior judge said that after the retirement of Hon Justice Hakila Herman, she was appointed as the Acting Chief Judge of Gombe State but after the mandatory 3 months provided by the constitution, Governor Inuwa Yahaya refused to extend her tenure.

Instead, another judge of the State, Justice Muazu Pindiga was appointed and his three months tenure as acting Chief Judge has been renewed for the fourth time because the executive has refused to do the right thing.

In August 2020, when the NJC directed the Gombe State Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to re-submit the names of the nominees for appointment as substantive Chief Judge of Gombe State by doing the right thing and including the name of the most senior judge, Justice Beatrice Illiya, the State JSC defied the directive, arguing that seniority is not a factor to be considered in the appointment of a Chief Judge of a State.

Justice Beatrice Illiya says she is being discriminated against because she is female and Christian.

The NBA President who was copied in the petition has however declared that the NJC at its meeting on Monday would do the right thing and insist on the appointment of the most senior judge of the state.

Nasarawa Impeachment: Lawmakers Petition NJC Over Chief Judge’s Conduct

NasarawaState House of AssemblyThe Nasarawa State House of Assembly has moved a resolution to petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the role of the Chief Judge of the state during the crisis that engulfed the state as a result of the plot to remove Governor Al-makura.

The PDP dominated House of Assembly, which resumed plenary on Monday after weeks of the impeachment saga, accused the Chief Judge, Suleiman Dikko, of partisanship in the discharge of his duty, citing the breach of section 188 sub-sections 5 and 7 of the 1999 constitution.

The House majority leader, Mr Godiya Akwashiki, who moved the motion under matters of public interest, also accused Justice Dikko for breaching the constitution in the formation of the probe panel which acquitted Governor Al-makura.

The House then directed the clerk to write to the NJC on the Chief Judge after the motion was passed.

Also, the lawmakers moved to suspend one of their colleagues, Tanko Tunga, from the All Progressives Congress for six months with a 50% pay cut for act of misconduct.

This is the first sitting of the State Assembly with the full complement of lawmakers from both the PDP and the minority APC, since the impeachment plot against Mr Al-makura was hatched.

It is believed in many quarters that loyalists of the Governor now face the heat and threat to their political careers.

Lawmaker Blames 1999 Constitution For Controversy In Rivers State Judiciary

Golden ChiomaThe Chairman of the Rivers State House of Assembly Committee on Judiciary, Mr Golden Chioma on Tuesday blamed the 1999 Constitution over the appointment controversy being witnessed by the Rivers State Judiciary.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mr Chioma said “ the format of the 1999 Constitution did it in such a way that the other two arms of government- executive and legislature- has ample opportunity to checkmate who becomes” the chief justice of a state.

“If the National Judicial Commission (NJC) makes a recommendation, the governor has the right to accept or reject the recommendation” insisting that “it is not sacrosanct that when the nomination comes the governor must accept it”.

He further noted that the issue has become a subject of litigation because “it has not happened before” adding that “the Rivers state governor had to go to court because he didn’t like the recommendation.

“If the House of Assembly votes on that issue and the votes are against the recommended person, that recommendation aborts at that time”, he added.

Debunking claims that the refusal by the governor to appoint the judge nominated by the NJC has some form of stripping the judiciary of its independence, he said Justice Akanbi had “dealt on it” in his judgment, and urged Nigerians to look at the judicial interpretation of the recommendation that was subject to litigation.

He slammed the NJC for rejecting the first person nominated by the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for having “rejecting” qualities adding that “it smacks of some funny issues.

“The JSC that is on ground and has cause to interact with the parties, should be given more credit” and accused the “NJC of having some other issues which, the other people that went to court were not satisfied with” maintaining that the “most important thing here is having gotten a judicial interpretation, I will want all parties to abide by the law”.

On Tuesday 18th of March Justice Lambo Akanbi nullified the recommendation of Justice Daisy Okocha, by the  NJC as the most senior judge of the state High Court to occupy the position of the Chief Judge of Rivers State.

He faulted the recommendation of the NJC which specifically recommended Justice Daisy Okocha as “wrong, null and void.”

Justice Akanbi also stated that Governor Amaechi cannot be compelled to accept whatever name the NJC sends to him because “the governor is not a rubber stamp.”

Akanbi stated that “the letter of the NJC of July 2, 2013, and received by Amaechi that only the most senior judge must be appointed contrary to the recommendation of the JSC is wrongful and null and void.”

Akanbi, who cited examples of Kwara and Osun as states where the presidents of the customary courts of appeal have been appointed as judges, pointed out that Rivers State would not be different, emphasizing that the reason given by the NJC was insufficient.

Meanwhile, the other nominee, Justice P.C. Agumagu, sworn in by Governor Rotimi Amaechi has been suspended by the NJC as a judicial officer.

His suspension came after he accepted a the appointment as the Chief Judge of Rivers State. The NJC insists that the ‘appointment’ is very flawed, and that Hon. Justice Agumagu should not have let it happen.