Thu. Sep 29th, 2022

Re: Appointment Of Justices Of The Supreme Court From Outside The Judiciary  -Johnson O. Esezoobo Esq

Re: Appointment Of Justices Of The Supreme Court From Outside The Judiciary  –Johnson O. Esezoobo Esq

Your historical perspective on the matter is faultless. But it does not answer the question what the problem is now at the Apex Court the solution to which lies in a resort to, and a re-enactment of practice of those uncertain periods. 

All the examples cited by you spanned the period immediately after independence, when the Country was yet to find its feet and then the period when we were governed by the brainwave of one man under the guise of Military rule. 

These two periods can be described as periods when there were no established policies for guidance or when actions were executed in utter violation of established policies; era of impunity such as characterised Babangida’s military Presidency and the late Abacha’s. For example, it is recalled that when he was taken up by the Press on the irregular appointment of General Olu Bajowa (Rtd) as Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Defence, General Babangida said he wanted to ‘maintain continuity’ as he felt that a military man was best suited to understand the issues of Defence. 

In other words, it was not the Policy of the State Babangida was enforcing, just like in the circumstances of Teslim Elias and Augustine Nnamani you mentioned, but his personal initiative without regard to the State Policy against nepotism and favouritism or the policy against appointment of retired persons already drawing pension from the treasury into career or other remunerative offices.  

The short point is that, we cannot use the aberrations of military era as precedents to address current issues in plaguing us. Even in law, when decisions are found to be working injustice or working against national interest, they may be over ruled or not followed much more odd actions that were taken without any established policy. 

It unclear what problem is in the Supreme Court of Nigeria now that the proposed irregular appointment is meant to solve. Nigeria has since come of age when we should be asking questions whether what is about to be done or is being done accords with established State Policy on the subject or on related subject. 

As the head of the judicial arm of Government, the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, and all his colleagues at the Federal and State levels, in collaboration with the NBA should be able to advise on what is best for strengthening the institution rather than take up a proposal by somebody else advanced ostensibly for the strengthening of the judiciary.

Aside from the policy of appointment by promotion that will be eroded by what is about to be done, the policy of national loyalty, will be compromised because people tend to be loyal to their appointors and god-fathers through whom they got appointed. It is common knowledge that in Nigeria, it takes more than just meeting the set qualifications to get appointed to some positions in Government; lobbying is also involved. And this has its own price.

In one case, one Senior Advocate of Nigeria was told by the Presiding Justice of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal “You can now talk…” When the Senior Advocate stepped out of the Court, he was overheard muttering, “After all I paid for it,”

There is also the factor of disaffection that we do not talk about. We pretend a lot that all is well when deep down in us, we have disaffection which is a negation of living in unity and harmony. I have seen lots and lots of instances where Judges gossip about their colleagues: the incompetence, the errors and in some cases, “how corrupt…” etc.  

Please, be reminded of what I said, ‘We may all be qualified. But none of us, including me, is “suitably qualified for the job”. My take remains that based on the criterion for the proposed recruitment, that is: ‘suitably qualified’, only serving Justices of the Court of Appeal are suitably quailed. 

The alternative to serving Justices of the Court of Appeal will be found among retired Judges who are still in their 60s and yet to be 70 years. Many of these are there, tried and tested with integrity unblemished. 

How do we explain a Justice of the Supreme Court having to sit with their fellow Justices to undergo induction as is done at the High Court level? That makes it so odd climbing a tree from the top. 

Furthermore, from the perspective that nobody going to the Supreme Court now from the Bar is expected to be less than 65, it is obvious that before they settle down on the job, they hit 70 years. What advantage does this add to the system? Please let us not gloss over this very serious matter. 

This is just a quick response to your well written observation. My full text of my objection is on the way.Thanks.


Johnson Odion Esezoobo Esq Can Be Reach Via -: +234 803 320 0595