Lopsided Recommendations: NJC Sets The Record Straight

By Ikenga Chronicles November 29, 2017

The National Judicial Council(NJC) has debunked media reports that it recommended 14 judges for approval as Justices of the Court of Appeal, without including a single judge from the South-east.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, through the NJC’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, on Tuesday, distanced the council from the said list, describing the report as ‘fake news’.

The swift denial came as the report sparked global outrage on social media over the said lopsided recommendation from the NJC.

Recall that Sahara Reporters had on Monday published a list of 14 new justices of the Appeal Court who, according to the paper, were recommended for appointment by the NJC, without the inclusion of judges from the South-east.

But reacting to the publication, Oye urged Nigerians to discountenance the report. The statement reads: “The attention of the National Judicial Council has been drawn to a purported list of Judges newly appointed to the Court of Appeal being circulated in public space and tragically reported as news item by credible news outlets.

“The Council wishes to dissociate itself completely from the said list as nothing of such emanated from it. Members of the public are also advised to discountenance the said list which is nothing but a figment of the imagination of the author(s).

“In the days ahead, the council will speak more on the ongoing process for the appointment of Judges into different cadre of the Nigerian Judiciary,” Oye said in a brief statement.

Also speaking on the development, Awassam Bassey, the Senior Special Assistant to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the NJC, Walter Onnoghen, said the criteria for selection of judges follows a quota system, based on the zone for which a vacant position exists.

“I’m not holding brief for the NJC or the interview panels, neither am I confirming the authenticity or otherwise of the list circulating online, but it is pertinent to clarify that appointment to the Court of Appeal is by quota. Vacancies exist when Justices die, retire or are promoted to the Supreme Court. In such situations, applications are called from the zone of the previous occupant to replace him or her.

“Recently, there have been series of Justices in the Supreme Court who retired from the North, including the two previous Chief Justices of Nigeria, Hon Justice Aloma Mukhtar GCON and Hon Justice Mahmud Mohammed GCON.

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