23rd September, 2020
By Taiwo Okanlawon
A Federal High Court in Abuja has faulted the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to forward the names of 11 lawyers nominated for appointment as judges of the High Court of The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the Senate for screening and confirmation.
In a judgment on Wednesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that President Buhari acted in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution when he forwarded the recommended names, sent to him by the National Judicial Council (NJC), to the Senate.
Buhari had, on July 7, 2020, forwarded the nominees to the upper legislative chamber for confirmation, including Abubakar Useni Musa, Edward Okpe, Jude Nwabueze, Josephine Enobi, and Christopher Opeyemi.
Others are Mohammed Idris, Hassan Maryam Aliyu, Fashola Akeem Adebowale, B. Abubakar, M. Francis, and Hamza Muazu.
But an Abuja-based lawyer, Oladimeji Felix Ekengba, sued President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Senate to court for allegedly breaching Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in the appointment of the judges.
However, Justice Ekwo in his judgment said the only instance where the President can forward NJC’s recommendation to the Senate, in respect of a High Court judge’s appointment, is when it relates to the appointment of a head of court, like the Chief Judge.
The judge however held that the fact that President Buhari contravened the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution did not affect that swearing-in of the judges.