By Edoamaowo Udeme
President Goodluck Jonathan and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) have asked Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to throw out a suit seeking to nullify the appointment of Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as the President of the Court of Appeal.
A lawyer, Chief Nkereuwem Udofia Akpan, approached the court about two months ago with a suit to challenge the appointment of Justice Bulkachuwa by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and President Jonathan. In the suit, the lawyer asked the court to set aside the appointment of Justice Bulkachuwa.
Apart from the President and the AGF, the plaintiff also joined NJC and the Senate as defendants in the matter.
But President Jonathan and AGF, in a preliminary objection, filed through their counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji, a senior advocate, the two respondents told the court that the suit of the plaintiff does not disclose reasonable cause of action.
They also argued in their objection that the plaintiff has no locus standi (legal rights) to institute the action.
They further submitted that the necessary parties are not before the court and also added that the plaintiff’s case is hypothetical, academic and of no practical utilitarian value..
During the proceedings yesterday, plaintiff was absent in court, but a counsel who represented him told the court that she was not been fully briefed about the matter.
The case was adjourned to July 3rd, due to the absence of the NJC in court. The court ordered that hearing notice should be issued to the NJC before the next adjourned date.
In the main suit, the plaintiff asked the court to immediately withdraw the recommendation made to the President for the appointment of Justice Bulkachuwa as the President of the Appeal Court, on the grounds that it did not conform to the age-long tradition of appointing heads of courts in the country on the basis of seniority.
He also asked the court to order that the name of the most senior justice of the Court of Appeal be sent to the President for appointment as the substantive PCA.
In the affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff argued that when the former PCA, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, was suspended from office, the most senior Justice of the Court of Appeal as at then, Justice Dalhatu Adamu, was appointed as the President of the court in acting capacity.
The plaintiff observed that the most senior judge had always been appointed as the head of court in the country.