By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
As the controversy continues to follow the recently released list of lawyers appointed by the National Council of Justice (NJC) for appointment as judges, President Muhammadu Buhari was urged to reject the nomination as it affects the Superior Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
NJC, on April 26 this year, made public names of 70 lawyers that it recommended for appointment as court judges across the country, with the FCT Superior Court having 33 candidates.
While many have continued to question the impartiality of the nomination process, one group, the Stand for Rights Initiative (SRi), is concerned with what it described as the deliberate exclusion of Akwa Ibom from the list of 33 nominees for the Supreme Court of Justice. the FCT.
The group's position is contained in a petition to President Buhari, dated May 7, 2020 and signed by SRI CEO Chief Sunday Esseinekak, whose copy The Nation saw in Abuja yesterday.
The SRi argued that the absence of Akwa Ibom State nominees from the list was a violation of the provisions of the Superior Court of the FCT (Number of Judges) Act 2003, particularly in Section 2, which requires that the appointment of judges to the court must reflect the principle of federal character.
The group claimed that the aforementioned provision of the Supreme Court of the FCT Law provided that, when appointing judges of the Supreme Court of the Federal Capital Territory, it would be necessary to appeal to the federal character of Nigeria and that every state of the federation should be equally represented in such nomination .
It said: “Of the 33 names sent to Your Excellency for confirmation by NJC, none of the candidates are from the State of Akwa Ibom. Not even one. Where is the justice and equity that NJC stands for?
“Currently, it is a fact that the Superior Court of FCT has a total number of 35 judges and that the 33 additional names recommended were to complement the number of judges, in line with the 2016 Senate amendment of the Superior Court of the Court of Justice. PCT Law, Abuja (Numbers of Judges). 2003, which equated the total number of judges to 75.
“Under this amended law, it is our position that each of the states of the federation produce two judges each at each appointment.
“Surprisingly, what shocks Mr. President is that the names of candidates from the state of Akwa Ibom are missing from the list released by NJC on April 26, 2020.
“We declare that it is intentional to deny the State of Akwa Ibom its pride and to relegate the state to the background, as has always been the case, when it comes to the FCT Judiciary.
“It is worrying to note that, in the list sent to Excellence, the interest of the State of Akwa Ibom is eliminated in the suspicious indication, while some states in the federation have more than one judge recommended by NJC.
“We affirm that the NJC did not consider the principle of federal character in the appointment of the judges of the Superior Court of FCT on April 26, 2020, and it violates the law of the National Assembly of Nigeria and was not done. with respect to due process.
“Your Excellency, the appointment of judges, as directed to your good office, is not fair and we ask that you leave it aside, as it is colored with all the pigments of national bias.
“Akwa Ibom's contributions to the socioeconomic and political life of Nigeria's corporate existence cannot be overemphasized and, as such, does not deserve to be marginalized and segregated by a constituted authority.
"We wrote to urge you to reject the list sent by NJC for confirmation and to order NJC to follow the law in that nomination, with regard to the federal character of the federation," said SRi.