Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, on Monday swore in 11 judges for the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The inauguration ceremony, which took place at the Supreme Court in Abuja, came after about four months and three weeks of waiting for the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to approve the National Judicial Council’s recommendation of the candidates for appointment.
The 11 judges were part of the 33 candidates originally recommended to Buhari by the NJC since April 23, 2020.
But the NJC’s list of 33 candidates was enmeshed in controversies as a group of lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative sent a petition to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), urging him to reject the recommendation of over 20 of the names.
The group alleged that the process leading to the recommendation of the over 20 names was marred by “violation of applicable NJC rules”, “judicial insider dealing”, as well as violation of federal character principle.
Also, not less than four suits either opposing or seeking the nullification of the NJC’s list are pending at the Federal High Court.
But Buhari, without giving any explanation, picked only 11 names from the list of 33 sent to him by the NJC.
Although Buhari did not publicly admit his error, the swearing of the 11 judges on Monday, showed that he had backtracked.
Swearing them in on Monday, the CJN said they “must detach” themselves from “those judges that have the penchant for sitting whenever it suits their desire”
He added, “Know it today that your subsequent elevation to the appellate courts will be roundly dependent on, not just the number of judgments you give within a certain time frame, but also the quality and impact of such judgments on our jurisprudence.”