Access to Justice (A2J) has filed a suit against the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to challenge the processes of appointing justices of the Supreme Court in the country.
The suit, which was filed at the Abuja division of the Federal High Court by Messrs. Jude Ogodi and Joseph Otteh for A2J, also listed President Muhammadu Buhari; the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammed; Senate President, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, as respondents.
The suit was said to be the latest in the series of steps taken by A2J as part of a longstanding advocacy to reform judicial appointment processes in Nigeria and ensure that judicial selection procedures are conducted transparently, competitively and are merit-based as well as meet required standards of integrity.
The lawsuit alleged that the FJSC and the NJC failed to comply and ensure compliance with the established judicial appointment procedures.
It further alleged that both of them circumvented aspects of those procedures which make the recruitment process transparent, fair, merit-based and competitive and further failed to disclose information that would enable interested persons monitor how the recruitment exercise was e done.
The applicant submitted that the 2014 Judicial Appointment Guidelines and the 2016 National Judicial Policy made far-reaching changes to previous judicial recruitment systems that were characterized by lack of transparency, opacity, lack of a level-playing field, influence-peddling and nepotism.
The applicant is thereby seeking a declaration that the FJSC did not fully, and in materials particular, comply with the aforesaid Judicial Appointment Guidelines, particularly with respect to making a public call for to expressions of interest in the vacant positions and notifying the NBA of the vacancies and calling for nominations before it drew up a list of candidates it submitted to the NJC for the latter’s consideration for appointment as Supreme Court justices at its meeting of the 22nd and 23rd October, 2019.
They further asked for an order quashing the list of candidates submitted by the FJSC to the NJC for consideration as Supreme Court justices.