In what may be another desperate move by President Buhari and the APC to emasculate the judiciary, the President has ordered the Justice Tanko Mohammed-led National Judicial Council (NJC) to urgently recruit new judges for the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Information available to us indicates that the National Judicial Council (NJC) is currently interviewing judges who will be appointed into the Supreme Court.
According to the information, the interview commenced on Thursday September 19, 2019 and is expected to end on Tuesday September 24, 2019.
This hush approach is in anticipation of the PDP and Atiku/Obi appealing last week ruling of the five-man Presidential Election Petition Panel on the outcome of the 2019 Presidential Election. The President had written to the NJC to recruit additional five judges to the Supreme Court.
In a letter made public on June 9, 2019 by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu; the President wrote: *”Pursuant to the provisions of Section 230(2) A&B of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to request that you initiate in earnest the process of appointing additional five Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to make the full complement of 21 Justices as provided by the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution.
”This is in line with the Government’s Agenda of repositioning the Judiciary in general and Supreme Court in particular for greater efficiency, with a view to reducing the backlogs of appeals pending at the Supreme Court.”
Acting on the President’s letter, the NJC had slated October 16 to begin process for the recruitment exercise. However, in view of the anticipated PDP appeal of the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the NJC has fast forward the recruitment process in order to include the new judges as members of the panel that will look into the PDP and Atiku/Obi’s appeal.
It is of utmost importance to note that the legal process for the recruitment of the Supreme Court justices is clearly outlined, as follows:-
1. Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) shall cause an advertisement on the newspapers, inviting interested lawyers who have attained 15 years post call in practice at the bar to apply
2. Shortlisted names shall be forwarded by the FJSC to the National Judicial Council (NJC)
3. The NJC shall interview the shortlisted lawyers/judges
4. The NJC shall forward names of those it has selected to the President
5. The President if satisfied with the names, shall forward same to the Senate for confirmation and if confirmed, these judges/lawyers will now be appointed as judges of the Supreme Court.
It may interest Nigerians to note that what is going on is a negation of the set out rules rather, the President by fiat has forward a letter to the NJC, ordering the commission to recruit five additional lawyers thus circumventing the statutory role of the FJSC in the matter.
It is obvious that President Buhari and his party, the APC are not comfortable with some existing justices of the Supreme Court to adjudicate on the PDP and Atiku/Obi’s appeal, hence the desperate move to subjugate justices of the Supreme Court.
Need to Review the Onnoghen Saga
Nigerians may recall that it was this same reason of subjugating the judiciary for personal gains that made President Buhari to hurriedly initiate the removal of former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen two weeks before the commencement of the 2019 general elections.
President Buhari, while shopping for a pliable judge to oversee the election petition tribunal, used his former aide to petition Justice Walter Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on allegation of false assets declaration.
Such actions as these were methods adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the APC to blatantly rig the 2019 Presidential Election even before the commencement of the election.
It’s time to #RescueNigeria