Judges’ Appointment: Group Urges Presidency To Ignore Petition Against NJC
A human rights group, Citizens’ Rights Initiative (CRI) has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari, to discountenance a petition written by a group of lawyers against the National Judicial council (NJC) on the list on nominees to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court judges.
CRI also described the petition as unfounded and baseless, which it said was sponsored by some enemies of the judiciary whose goal amongst others is to bring the judiciary arm to disrepute by not seeing anything good in whatever the judiciary does.
It would be recall that a group of lawyers under the auspices of Open Bar Initiative (OBI) had in a petition dated April 30, 2020, and signed by the duo of Silas Joseph Onu and Dr. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, the group’s Co-convener, called on President Buhari and leadership of the National Assembly, to reject the list on the ground that NJC failed to comply with its laid down rules and procedures and High Court of the FCT Act, 2003.
OBI particularly moved against the nomination of Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin, whom it alleged did not part take at any level of the nomination in the processes and that her names was smuggled into the list submitted to the President.
OBI also alleged that the list of nominees contained the names of children and relations of both serving and retired justices.
However, Citizens’ Rights Initiative (CRI) in a counter-petition dated May 8, 2020 and signed by its Convener, Comrade Yakubu Eleto, urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to discountenance the lawyers’ petition, as it an assault on the image and integrity of NJC and the personality of Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin.
CRI also called on OBI to immediately tender an unreserved apology to the NJC and the Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin and others in three national dailies.
CRI counter-petition captioned Re: Petition against the National Judicial Council’s recommended names for appointment into the Federal Capital Territory High Court; the tissues of lies, the truth of the matter, the conspiracy of the mischiefmakers, the calculated attempt to derail the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from recommending Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin (Admin) as a judge of the FCT High Court and an assault on the image and integrity of NJC and the personality of Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin, reads in part: “our attention has been drawn to a petition in some online and social media platforms allegedly submitted to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by a certain group namely Open Bar Initiative (OBI) led by Chidi Anselm Odinkalu (Ph.D) and Silas Joseph Onu,who claimed that the NJC was wrong to have nominated some lawyers and particularly Chief Magistrate (Admin) Olufola Olufolashade Oshin for recommendation as judges of the FCT High court.
“In the body of the petition it alleged that Chief Magisrtate Olufolake Oshin “was not even one of the shortlisted candidates all through the process. This name was smuggled into the final list and we have no further information as to who the person is but we understand that a top supreme court judge smuggled her name”. We wish to state clearly that the allegation being spread by the group is perfidious, wicked, perjured, and a calculated attempt to besmirch the image of the NJC and that of Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin (Amin).
“We condemn the petition as it is unfounded and baseless; sponsored by some enemies of the judiciary whose goal amongst others is to bring the judiciary arm to disrepute by not seeing anything good in whatever the judiciary does.
“This hypocritical campaign and vilifying false claims are entirely scurrilous, disparaging, mud-slinging, unfounded in facts, irresponsible and a brazen punch on the integrity of the NJC as a responsible and accountable organization.
“However, and in response to the unfounded allegations of the petitioners, Chief Magistrate Olufolake Oshin participated in all the processes leading to her nomination as a Judge of the FCT High Court including the DSS Screening in Abuja of February, 2020.
“Chief Magistrate Olufola Oshin is a Chief Magistrate (Admin) in Lagos State with over 21 years experience on the bench and over 35 years post call experience as a diligent and respectable legal practitioner in Nigeria. She is a prolific writer and the first to write a book on the Lagos State Magistrate Procedure rules published by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice with the forward written by late Justice Kayode Esho. She also has other books to her records. She was also a former elected Regional Vice President of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association, a position she held for six (6) years.
“On the above account, we state it clearly that she is not only qualified but fulfilled all the conditions leading to her nomination and further recommendation as a judge of the FCT High Court.
“For the records, she was interviewed alongside 40 other shortlisted candidates on the 19th day of February 2020 by the NJC at the NJC office in Abuja where some respectable senior members of the bar were present including the Honorable Chief Judge of the FCT High court. It should also be noted that she was screened by the DSS at their Abuja office.
“That given to the above, IT IS NOT THINKABLE nor does it make any sense that the apex Judicial authority in Nigeria will appoint anyone as a Judge without following its laid down rules as alleged by the Odinkalu led group.
“For the avoidance of doubts, the NJC is a creation of statutes and its activities are governed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its own made rules. It is therefore not plausible for the NJC to expressly go against its own rules as alleged by the Open Bar Initiative.
“At this juncture, we commend the NJC for a job well done and we implore the NJC to set the machinery OF the law in motion against the drafters of such image destroying petition targeted at the distinguished members of the NJC.
“We state once again that Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin went through all the processes leading to her nomination and she is more experienced to be a Judge of the High Court of the FCT.
“Finally we urge the general public to take a deem view of the petition and threat it as one of those petitions authored by attention seekers.
“We consequently urge the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to discountenance the petition as it is wicked and baseless and go ahead to approve the nominations as recommended by the NJC.
“We therefore urge the Odinkalu led group to immediately tender an unreserved apology to the NJC and the Chief Magistrate Olufola Olufolashade Oshin and others in three national dailies”.