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Published On: Mon, Aug 10th, 2020

Gombe Chief Judge saga: FIDA, right activist, petition NJC, CJN

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By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC), against any attempt by the Gombe State government to prevent Justice Beatrice Iliya from becoming the substantive Chief Judge of the state on account of her sex and religion.
The body of female lawyers, has in the letter to the NJC, lamented what it termed recurring discriminatory actions against female law practitioners in parts of the country.
FIDA vowed to resist such application if it applied in the selection of a substantive Chief Judge for Gombe State.
Justice Beatrice Iliya has personally petitioned the Na­tional Judicial Council (NJC) over alleged plot by Gombe State government to scuttle her elevation as Chief Judge of the state.
The petition was dated April 21, 2020 and titled, ‘Re-Presentation by Hon. Justice Beatrice L. Iliya in Respect of the Appointment of Chief Judge of Gombe State High Court’.
In the petition, the embat­tled female Judge chronicled the preceding events and ac­tions of the state government aimed at stopping her from becoming the next Chief Judge of the state.
Her petition opened a floodgate of similar petitions from some interest groups and community leaders on the subject matter.
For instance, a community leader and human rights activist, Yakubu Sarma, Magatakadan Bambam, has informed the National Judicial Council (NJC), that the preferred candidate of the Gombe State Judicial Service Commission, Justice Mua’zu A. Pindiga, is by far a junior judicial officers to Justice Iliya.
Expressing worry over what it described as deep seated discrimination against female lawyers especially in the northern part of the county, FIDA advised the NJC not succumb to such anachronistic and discriminatory antics.
In a petition forwarded to the NJC and signed by its Country Vice-President, Barr. Rhoda Prevail Tyoden and National Secretary, Barr. Evelyn Membere-Asimiea, FIDA drew the attention of the NJC and in particular, its Chairman and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Mohammed, to what
they described as serious infractions by the Gombe State Judicial Service Commission where a female Judge, Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya, is about to be denied elevation to the Chief Justice of the State, ostensibly because of her gender.
FIDA, a body of female lawyers which also promote, protect and preserve the rights of women and children, pointed out that several female Judges who had been appointed as Acting Chief Judges had been denied the privilege of rising to the pinnacle of being named the substantive Chief Judge of affected states and urged the NJC to put a stop such discriminatory and frustrating trend.
FIDA reminded the NJC “that Hon. Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya who is the most senior judge in the Gombe State Judiciary, and was appointed acting Chief Judge, instead of confirming her as the substantive Chief Judge upon the expiration of her acting capacity, two other judges have been nominated and a far junior appointed as acting Chief Judge of the State”.
The activists stressed that, “FIDA Nigeria is dismayed that the name of Hon. Justice Beatrice Iliya is not one of the nominees. We strongly feel that this action is based on gender discrimination as Hon. Justice Beatrice Lazarus Iliya has proved to have professional competence through her performance as acting Chief Judge of Gombe”.
They insist that the conditions spelt out in Revised Rule 3(6) of the Procedural Rules of NJC required the consideration of the most senior judge for the position of a Chief Judge among other requirements, should be followed to its letters.

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