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Lawyers write Buhari to reject appointment of 22 FCT judges

A voluntary organisation of Nigerian lawyers, The Open Bar Initiative, has petitioned the President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to reject the appointment of 22 out of the 33 persons recommended to him for as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The copies of the petition were also sent to Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, urging them to advise the President to reject the recommendations.

The petition, dated April 30, 2020, was signed by the co-conveners of the group, Silas Onu and Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, who is a former National Human Rights Commission.

The NJC had at its meeting held on April 22 and 23 recommended the 33 persons to Buhari for appointment to the FCT High Court bench which currently has 33 serving judges.

They alleged that the recommendation of the 22 persons for judicial appointments was marred by “violation of applicable NJC rules for selection and appointment of superior court judges” as well as “judicial insider dealing.”

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It also said the recommendations violated the federal character principle as contained in Section 2 of the FCT High Court (Number of Judges) Act, 2003 and Rule Three (6) of the NJC Guideline for Appointment of Judges.

The petitioners stated, “Mr. President Sir, having sworn to the world to defend and uphold the constitution and institutions established under it, we appeal to you as the custodian of our national values to do right by your oath and decline this list.

Therefore, we pray and plead with you to reject this recommendation and order a transparently objective selection exercise devoid of conflict of interest and undue influence or insider dealing of any kind.

“We are not against the children of judges applying, but we insist that even they must compete on a level playing field with all others and they cannot be exempt from existing rules which govern the selection and appointment of judges.