Appointment of Appeal Court Justices: Regional groups cries foul, accuse FJSC of excluding Christian judges from list

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

Four regional groups representing the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has accused some perceived politicians at the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) of compromising the list of nominated candidates for appointment of Court of Justices of the Court of Appeal.

The groups are therefore demanding that the list be trashed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for the original list prepared by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem.

According to the regional groups, the action of the FJSC followed the rejection of the merit list submitted to the Commission by the President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Monica Dongban- Mensem.

It is the constitutional responsibility of the President of the Court of Appeal to scrutinize candidates and present a list of competent and qualified candidates to the FJSC for consideration and onward transmission to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for appointment.

In a statement on Monday, the groups said they are surprised that the 20 candidates on preferred list picked from the north are all Muslims.

The statement was jointly signed by Yinka Odumakin for the South West; Chief Guy Ikoku (South East); Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), respectively.

The statement reads: ‘The list was said to have been allegedly compromised by politicians at the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

‘This was also said to be consequent upon the rejection of the merit list submitted to the Commission by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem. It is part of the constitutional responsibilities of the PCA to scrutinize candidates and present a list of competent and qualified candidates to FJSC for consideration and onward transmission to the National Judicial Council for appointment.

‘It is quite surprising that of the 20 candidates on the preferred list, all the candidates picked from the North excluded Christians and with three khadis on board for a court that needs experts in various areas of law, including customary law. The list of the PCA was said to have reflected all such needs but whimsically overturned at the FJSC under the guise of Federal Character.

‘But for the nepotism that is celebrated in Nigeria today, what is the basis of not having a Christian on such list from entire northern Nigeria.

‘We cannot accept that a multi-ethnic and religious country is being treated this way.

‘Our demand is simple: the FJSC list should be trashed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) immediately for the original list prepared by the President of the Court of Appeal to avoid lawsuit on this matter.’

The shortlisted Judges for an interview by the NJC priority candidates are Hon. Kadi Mohammed Danjuma (Niger State Sharia Court of Appeal); Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Sirajo (Plateau State High Court); Justice Abdul-Azeez Waziri (Federal High Court, from Adamawa state); Justice Yusuf Alhaji Bashir; Justice Usman Musale (FCT High Court, from Yobe State); Justice Ibrahim Wakili Jauro (Yobe State High Court); Justice Abba Bello Mohammed ( FCT High Court, from Kano State); Justice Kadi Mohammed Lawal Omar (Katsina State Sharia Court of Appeal); Justice Bature Isah Gafai (Katsina State) and Justice Danlami Zama Senchi ( FCT High Court, from Kebbi State).

The rest are Hon. Kadi Bello Ladan Raha (Kebbi State Sharia Court of Appeal); Justice Mohammed Lawal Abubakar (Sokoto State High Court); Justice Muslim Sule Hassan( Federal High Court, from Zamfara State); Justice Neth Ikechukwu Amadi ( National Industrial Court, from Imo State) among others.

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