Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Appointment of 21 New FCT High Court Judges

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Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Appointment of 21 New FCT High Court Judges

A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging the nomination by the National Judicial Council (NJC) of 21 lawyers for appointment as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The 21 nominees are among the 33 recently nominated by the NJC for appointment as High Court judges, most of whom have since assumed duties.

In a judgment on Wednesday, Justice Okon Abang held among others, the plaintiff lacked the locus standi (the legal right to approach the court) to file the suit.

Justice Abang proceeded to decline jurisdiction on the grounds that the non-possession of locus standi by the plaintiff robbed the court of the requisite jurisdiction to hear the case.

The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/602/2020, filed by a group, JRP Foundation Ltd/GTE, had the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the NJC, the Judicial Service Committee (JSC) of the FCT, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the 21 nominees as defendants

The group, made up of about 15 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), had contended among others that the affected nominees did not meet the requirements stipulated in existing provisions in the Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers in the country.

JRP prayed the court to among others, set aside the recommendation of the nominees by the 2nd defendant (NJC) to the first defendant (President Buhari) for appointment as judges.

It also wanted the court to declare “that in its exercise of its constitutional duties to recommend suitable persons to the 2nd defendant as judges of High Court of FCT, Abuja, the 3rd defendant (JSC) of the FCT) must only recommend such persons as have met the criteria and satisfied the conditions set out in the extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers in Nigeria made by the 2nd defendant.

JRP equally sought a declaration that, in exercising its constitutional duties to recommend to the President, from the list submitted by the 3rd defendant, persons to be appointed judges of High Court of FCT, Abuja, the 2nd defendant can only recommend such persons as have met the criteria and satisfied the conditions set out in its extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers in Nigeria.

It also sought a declaration that, the 5th to 25th defendants (the nominees), having failed to meet the criteria and satisfied the conditions set out in the extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers in Nigeria, are not suitable persons for nomination for appointment as judges of High Court of the FCT, Abuja, within the purview of Paragraph 2(1) of Part III of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.”

The plaintiff urged the court to declare that the JSC of the FCT acted improperly, in bad faith and gross abuse of power vested in it when it submitted the nominations of these persons to the NJC for appointment as judges.

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