August 20, 2022

Court

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, will on Monday swear in 18 judges whose elevation to the Court of Appeal had been approved.

 

Those to be sworn in include Justice Adebukola Banjoko of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, who had sentenced two former governors, Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Joshua Dariye of Plateau State.

While Nyame was on May 30, 2018, sentenced to a maximum of 14 years without an option of fine, his Plateau State counterpart, Dariye, was on June 12, 2018, convicted and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and two years jail term for criminal misappropriation.

 

Also to be sworn in as a Justice of the Court of Appeal are two former Chief Registrars of the Supreme Court, Justice Usman Musale (Yobe State) and Danlami Zenchi (Kebbi State).

 

Musale was a judge of the FCT High Court who had issued a warrant of arrest against a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Muhammed Adoke, SAN.

He was also the judge of the High Court of the FCT, who issued an order suspending Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

 

Their appointment to the appellate bench had attracted a suit by a southeastern group, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), against the National Judicial Council(NJC), challenging the alleged lopsided appointment of Justices of the Court of Appeal.

 

The Incorporated Trustees of the foundation sued the NJC, Federal Judicial Service Commission, President of the Court of Appeal, Federal Character Commission, and the Attorney-General of the Federation as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

 

The group asked the court, in its originating summons, to determine whether the defendants can disregard the principle of fairness, due process, and federal character in the appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal, with regards to the South East Zone of Nigeria.

 

It also asked the court to determine whether the South East was not entitled to three slots in the ongoing appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal to fill up the vacancies that were caused by the elevation, retirement, and death of the three justices of the Court of Appeal from the zone.

 

The group prayed the court to declare the actions of the NJC, FJSC, and the President of the Court of Appeal as unjustifiable and unconstitutional for only allocating one slot to the South East.

It also prayed the court to declare that the zone was entitled to three slots in the ongoing appointment exercise and restrain the defendants from continuing with the exercise until the South East is accorded their rightful slots.

 

However, Justice Ekwo in his judgment held that the plaintiff, having registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) under Part A of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, as a foundation, acted in ultra vires his objects by bringing the suit.

 

He particularly noted that under section 823(1) of CAMA, as a foundation, it has exceeded the parameters of a foundation by filling the suit.

 

Justice Ekwo held that contrary to the submissions canvassed by the plaintiff, there are no provisions under Part A of CAMA the cloth the plaintiff with the locus standi to engaged itself in public interest litigation.

 

But in a swift reaction, counsel to the plaintiff, Max Ozoaka has vowed to challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal.

 

In a letter addressed to the Chief Judge of FCT High Court Abuja, and signed by the Chief Registrar, Hadizatu Mustapha, ‘the CJN invites your lordship to the swearing-in ceremony of the following Justices of the Court of Appeal Abuja on Monday, June 28, 2021, by 10 am at the Main Court Room of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.’

 

The names of the newly appointed appellate court Justices with their states of origin are:

Mohammed Danjuma (Niger State); Muhammad Ibrahim Sirajo (Plateau); Abdul-Azeez Waziri (Adamawa); Yusuf A. Bashir (Taraba); Usman A. Musale (Yobe); Ibrahim Wakili Jauro (Yobe); Abba Bello Mohammed (Kano); Bature Isah Gafai (Katsina); Danlami Zama Senchi (Kebbi); Mohammed Lawal Abubakar (Sokoto); Hassan Muslim Sule (Zamfara); Hassan Muslim Sule (Zamfara); Kenneth Ikechukwu Amadi (Imo); Peter Oyinkenimiemi Affen (Bayelsa); Sybil Onyeji Gbagi (Delta); Olasunbo Goodluck (Lagos); Adebukola Banjoko (Ogun); Olabode Adegbehingbe (Ondo) and Bola Samuel Ademola (Ondo).

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