PROFILE OF 24 NOMINATED JUDGES FOR FCT JUDICIARY

Profiles of 24 Nominee-Judges of the FCT High Court

By Charles Akinola Citizens’ Gavel Communication Team

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has appointed 12 out of the 24 nominated Judges

Below are the profiles of the 24 Judges for the records and the family/political ties with some heavyweights in the society.

1. Name of Judge-nominee: ADEMUYIWA OLAKUNLE OYEYIPO

Role before Nomination: Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation), FCT High Court

Notable fact:
In his capacity as the DCR of the FCT High Court, OYEYIPO responded to Saharareporters’ letter of inquiry dated 3rd February 2023 which sought to know if Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/73/23 between Prophetess Happy Omotowhe Edeme V Doris Ogala (A.K.A Chioma Johnson) was pending before the FCT High Court. Answering in the negative, OYEYIPO informed the Saharareporters that contrary to the widely publicized claim of Prophetess Happy Omotowhe Edeme, there was no pending action before the FCT High Court with Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/73/23 between Prophetess Happy Omotowhe Edeme V Doris Ogala (A.K.A Chioma Johnson) in the court’s record.

2. Name of Judge-nominee: BAMODU ODUNAYO OLUTOMI

Role before Nomination: Deputy Chief Registrar – Head of Lagos Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria

Notable fact:
Mr. Odunayo Olutomi Bamodu received his Bachelors and Master Degrees in Law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife and the University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria respectively. He was employed into the public service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on February 25, 2002 as Senior Registrar I in the National Industrial Court. He was promoted to the rank of Principal Registrar II in 2005 and was appointed Deputy Chief Registrar in 2006. He has attended local and international courses, seminars workshops and study tours.

3. Name of Judge-nominee: ANUMAENWE GODWIN IHEABUNIKE

Role before Nomination: Assistant Director, Legal Drafting Department, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja

Notable fact:
ANUMAENWE GODWIN IHEABUNIKE was the Legal Adviser/Secretary to the Governing Board/Head Community Legal Aid Clinic for Legal Aid Council of Nigeria. He rose from Grade Level 14 to Grade level 15 via special promotion in recognition of his hard work and meritorious services. In addition to being an Assistant Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, he is also the legal adviser to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.

4. Name of Judge-nominee: ODO CELESTINE OBINNA

Role before nomination: He is a director in KENEVIC AGRO RESOURCES NIGERIA LIMITED and also the Director, HOD (magistrate) FCT High Court, Abuja

Notable fact:
In his capacity as senior magistrate sitting in Abuja, Obinna sentenced a cable thief, one Gaya Barnabas, to 12 months’ imprisonment without an option of fine in the year 2010. The sentence was imposed following the accused confession to committing the crime. The accused also confirmed in open court that he was convicted twice for a similar offence in the past.

5. Name of Judge-nominee: HAUWA LAWAL Gummi

State of origin: Jigawa
Familial ties: Hauwa is the daughter of Hon. Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi (rtd), the former Chief Judge of the FCT High Court

6. Name of Judge-nominee: YAKUBU YAHUZA MURI

Role before nomination: Assistant Director (legal) Nigeria Mining Cadastre, an Agency under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

7. Name of Judge-nominee: BUETNAAN MANDY BASSI

Role before nomination: Judge, High Court of Plateau State
State of origin: Plateau State

Familial ties:
a. Mandy is daughter of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, the President of the Court of Appeal;
b. Mandy is also the wife of Hon. Justice Paul Bassi, a Justice of the Court of Appeal.

Political ties:
Bassi’s mother hails from the same Local Government Area in Plateau State as former Governor Simon Bako Lalong, who appointed her as a judge of the High Court of Plateau State in 2021

Notable Facts:
In 2023, Mandy’s mother appointed the Justices of the Court of Appeal who overturned the election of Napoleon Bali and returned Lalong as the Senator representing the people of Plateau Central Senatorial District. Mandy’s nomination as a judge of the FCT High Court has generated heated arguments among stakeholders and CSOs who wondered why Mandy who is already a judge of the High Court of Plateau State would take up the slot of a potentially qualified candidate by applying for the FCT bench recruitment when she could have simply applied for a transfer.

8. Name of Judge-nominee: SARAH BENJAMIN INESU AVOH

Role before nomination: Senior Magistrate II

Notable fact:
On the 14th day of February, 2022, Magistrate Avoh of Court 15 sitting in Yenagoa ruled on a Notice of Preliminary Objection which was filed by the Defendant in Charge No: YMC/180/2021 between PETERS BEREGHA V. BARAZA MULTIPURPOSE CO-OERATIVE SOCIETY LTD. While striking out the charge for want of jurisdiction, Magistrate Avoh noted that the Plaintiff failed to comply with the mandatory procedure for the settlement of disputes entrenched in section 51 of the Cooperative Societies Law, cap C11, Laws of Bayelsa State, 2006. The Court clarified that its jurisdiction under the Law is limited to enforcement of an arbitral award or decision of the Registrar or Commissioner; and that the Court is not vested with jurisdiction to entertain disputes in the first instance.

9. Name of Judge-nominee: MARYAM IYE YUSUF

Role before nomination: Magistrate II
State of origin: Kogi

Familial ties: Maryam is a daughter to the current Chief Judge of the FCT High Court

Notable facts:
Yusuf Maryam Iye hails from Ankpa LGA in Kogi State. She was appointed as a magistrate into the FCT Judiciary in March 2015. Her hobbies are Networking, Reading and Aerobics. The nomination of Maryam along with certain other judge-nominees was greeted with serious public outcry which prompted the House of Representatives to pass a resolution directing the FCT Judiciary to pause the ongoing recruitment process. But in flagrant disobedience of that directive, the FCT Judiciary has continued with its recruitment efforts with the latest being the shortlisting of 24 judge-nominees and the subsequent invitation of members of the Nigerian Bar Association to submit their comments, objections or petitions on the suitability or otherwise of the nominated candidates.

10. Name of Judge-nominee: ARIWOOLA OLUWAKEMI VICTORIA

Role before nomination: Magistrate II
State of origin: Oyo

Familial ties: Victoria is the daughter in-law of the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Ariwoola

Notable facts:
Ariwoola Victoria Oluwakemi hails from Iseyin LGA of Oyo State. She was one among 40 controversial Magistrates that were appointed in December 2020.

Critics have described the procedure of the recruitment as lacking in transparency as it was done outside the known practice of appointment of judges into the Judiciary. It is noteworthy that less than three [3] months into their appointments, two out of the forty [40] appointed magistrates reportedly resigned from office citing tedious workload and failure of their highly placed parents to seek their consent before submitting their names for the recruitment. The nomination of Ariwoola Victoria Oluwakemi as a judge of the FCT High Court has generated huge controversy as her father-in-law, Mr Ariwoola CJN, along with the FCT Chief Judge, Mr. Yusuf, were accused of nepotism and refusal to comply with the federal character principle. Prior to submitting Victoria’s name for appointment as a judge of the FCT High Court, Mr Ariwoola had successfully elevated his son, Kayode Ariwoola Jnr, as a federal judge and his younger brother, Adebayo Ariwoola, as the auditor of the National Judicial Council. Mr. Ariwoola had also promoted his nephew, Lateef Ganiyu, to the Court of Appeal.

11. Name of Judge Nominee: LESLEY NKESI BELEMA WIKE

Role before nomination: She is One of two proprietors of LESLEY WIKE & ASSOCIATES, JAEL CHAMBERS and a Magistrate II in the Rivers State Judiciary

State of Origin: Rivers
Familial ties: Lesley is an in-law to Mr. Nyesom Wike whose wife, Eberechi Wike, is a judge of the Rivers State High Court.

Political ties: Lesley is an in-law to former Governor Wike, a staunch politician and the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Notable Fact:
The incumbent governor, Seminalayi Fubara, while purportedly implementing what was reportedly tagged as ‘Wike’s slot’ had in July of 2023, appointed 16 Magistrates into the Rivers State Judiciary. It was reported that over 400 candidates applied for the coveted job but only family members of top politicians and personalities (of which LESLEY NKESI BELEMA Wike was one) were favoured.

12. Name of Judge Nominee: MUNIRAT IBRAHIM TANKO

Role before nomination: Magistrate I, FCT High Court

State of Origin: Bauchi
Familial Ties: MUNIRAT IBRAHIM TANKO is the daughter of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice I.T Mohammad (rtd)

Notable fact:
MUNIRAT IBRAHIM TANKO hails from Giade LGA of Bauchi State. She was appointed into the FCT Judiciary in March 2015. Her hobbies are Networking, Reading and Travelling

13. Name of Judge Nominee: CAJETAN C. OSISIOMA

Role before nomination: Judge, Customary Court, Imo State
State of origin: Imo

14. Name of Judge Nominee: HAYATU SANI

Role before nomination: Legal Practitioner with National Deposit Insurance Commission

15. Name of Judge Nominee: EHUSANI ABEL SIMPA

Role before nomination: Judge, Customary Court, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

16. Name of Judge Nominee: IFEOLUWA GBEMINIYI OJEDIRAN

Role before nomination: Judge, Customary Court, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

Names of other Judge Nominees:

17. SALIHU IBRAHIM SALIHU

18. NGAR ISAAC HARRISON

19. WERIEBI EGBERIPOU

20. DIANE NGUMMAI NKWAP

21. ABDULRAHAMAN USMAN

22. NWOYE AKACHUKWU ANTHONY

23. ABDULLAHI TOYIN AMBALI

24. AGOSU-ADELEKE OLUWATOSIN ESTHER

ENDS***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CITIZENS’ GAVEL CALLS FOR NIGERIANS’ ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT IN JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS

 

Citizens’ Gavel, a not-for-profit and non-governmental organization committed to expediting justice in Nigeria, implores every Nigerian to engage in the ongoing judicial appointment process. The organization highlights that the integrity of our democracy is not solely determined by electoral outcomes but equally by the judicious selection of our judicial officers. Citizens’ Gavel stands firm in its belief that the involvement of the Nigerian people is paramount in shaping a trustworthy and equitable judicial system.

 

According to the group, the appointment of twelve (12) out of the twenty-four (24) nominated judges is a crucial phase for our democratic journey as more people will be vested with powers to uphold justice, maintain the rule of law, interpret laws, review the constitution, resolve disputes and protect the rights of the ordinary Nigerian, all of which directly impacts the lives of every Nigerian.

 

Also, in the vein of judicial accountability, the group has condemned the prevalence of decadence in the Nigerian Judicial System, which has been noticeable in recent years. To nip this decadence in the bud, Citizens’ Gavel urgently beckons the people of Nigeria to exercise their democratic right to a transparent and accountable process in appointing judges. The NGO insists on the necessity of basing judicial selections on merit and established integrity to arrest the current degradation and fortify the foundations of justice in the nation. Moving forward, the group urges the Nigerian judiciary to dispense equal consequences for action, such that everyone plays by the same rules stipulated by the constitution, regardless of status, tribe, religion or name, just as is obtainable in developed, democratic countries.

 

Leading the charge for judicial accountability, Citizens’ Gavel have meticulously compiled and presented the profiles of the identified twenty-four appointees. The organization invites the Nigerian public to exercise their civic duty by thoroughly examining each individual’s profile. Concerns regarding any appointee’s character, conduct, or impartiality should be formally addressed through a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC). Citizens are encouraged to articulate their objections clearly and send a copy of their correspondence to hello@gavel.ng. View complete nominee list here: Citizens’ Gavel: Helping people get justice on time

ABOUT GAVEL: Citizens’ Gavel is a civic tech NGO that aims to create a world where justice delivery is fast and efficient regardless of economic or political demographics.

Signed

Charles Akintola for Citizens’ Gavel’s Communications Team

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