Nigeria dies as NJC appointment of 33 judges murders Federal Character

by Silas Joseph Onu

This will be a very brief summation of my thoughts after the National Judicial Council (NJC) released the names of individuals shortlisted as judges for the FCT High Court and other Courts. That list is another reminder of everything that is wrong with Nigeria today. I will make these points with focus on the judiciary and the legal profession.

In recent past, I have called for a reform of the NJC through a Constitutional amendment that will remove all serving and retired judges from the council as the presence have only ensured that they have now privatised the judiciary by making it a family institution. It is far easier to be a judge without a day’s experience in legal practice if your father or mother was or is a superior Court judge. If you do not have that qualifying privilege, you may be the best practicing lawyer with the passion of being a judge and still remain an applicant until you are frustrated out of that bid. The room for the rest of Nigerians in the appointment of judges is usually very small – just to make it look like a fair game.

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The same tactic of privatising the judiciary is currently happening in the legal practice where it has been shown, repeatedly, that it is easier for a lawyer without a track record of exceptional practice to be rewarded with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria upon meeting the basic requirement of age, if his father or mother is or was a Senior Advocate or a Superior Court judge. The rank is shared by a few in a effort to place their children above their peers undeservedly. That has seen the emergence of SANs who still hide under the shadow of their parents to proof their capacity for the rank.

These being said, take a cursory look at the list of judges released by the NJC:

i) Muhammad Mustapha Adamu
ii) Madugu Mohammed Alhaji
iii) Josephine Obanor Enobie
iv) Kayode Agunloye
v) Enenche Eleojo
vi) Nwabulu Ngozika Chineze
vii) Abubakar Babashani
viii) Aminu Muhammad Abdullahi
ix) Nwecheonwu Chinyere Elewe
x) Ibrahim Mohammed
xi) Sadia Mu’azu Mayana
xii) Mimi Anne Katsina Alu-Apena
xiii) Kanyip Rosemary Indinya
xiv) Aliyu Yunusa Shafa
xv) Mohammed Zubairu
xvi) Binta Dogonyaro
xvii) Christopher Opeyemi Oba
xviii) Adeyemi Ajayi Jadesola
xix) Abubakar Husseini Musa
xx) Adelaja Oluyemisi Ikeolupo
xxi) Mohammed Idris Sani
xxii) Frances Erhuvwu Messiri
xxiii) Fatima Abubakar Aliyu
xxiv) Jude Ogor Onwuegbuzie
xxv) Hamza Mu’azu
xxvi) Edward Ajenu E. Okpe
xxvii) Agashieze Cyprian Odinaka
xxviii) Fashola Akeem Adebowale
xxix) Aliyu Halilu Ahmed
xxx) Hassan Maryam Aliyu
xxxi) Hafsat Lawan Abba-Aliyu
xxxii) Olufola Olufolashade Oshin
xxxiii) Njideka K. Nwosu-Iheme

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Apart from not meeting the minimum expectation of the Federal Character principle, it is replete with the names of the children of serving and retired Supreme Court Justices, one was even a Chief Justice. The Child of retired FCT Chief Judge and other cronies. Some of these privileged children are magistrates with questionable qualities for the job, yet they got elevated ahead of known magistrates who have served for a longer period with years of experience and dedication to duty. These experienced magistrates will be frustrated out of the job over time as their parents were never superior Court judges. How can a nation progress with such an attitude?

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The silence of Nigerians, for the fears of losing patronage over these atrocities, will eventually harm the nation as a whole. Everyone knows these things to be wrong, but they’ll rather praise the CJN for these corrupt appointments than condemn it. Soon, crazy judgments will be dished out from our Courts and we will begin to complain as we didn’t know the origin of the problem.

Why make the office of a judge just another job only to earn salary, without the requisite passion for justice?

The consequences of these indiscretions of the NJC will live with us and eventually choke the justice sector in Nigeria.

I condemn these appointments that favours family members of serving and retired judges. There can be no justification for it – no explanation will do.

God save Nigeria.

Silas Joseph Onu, Esq
Past Publicity Secretary
NBA Abuja.

What are your thoughts?

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