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Published On: Fri, Jul 10th, 2020

Lawyer sues Buhari, Senators over appointment of new FCT judges

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By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate, and others has been dragged before a Federal High Court, Abuja over the appointment of judges of the Federal Capital Territory High Court.
According to the plaintiff, Oladimeji Felix Ekengba, the action is contrary to Section 256(2) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 as amended.
In the suit, the Abuja-based lawyer alleged that President Buhari breached the constitution when on July 7 he forwarded the names of 11 persons recommended for appointment as judges of the FCT High Court to the Senate for confirmation.
The list forwarded to the Senate include: Abubakar Useni Musa, Edward Okpe, B. Abubakar, M. Francis, Jude Nwabueze, Josephine Enobi, Christopher Opeyemi, Mohammed Idris, Hassan Maryam Aliyu, Fashola Akeem Adebowale and Hamza Muazu.
Those joined as respondents are: President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Senate of the Federal Republic, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Clerk of the Senate, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, and the National Judicial Council.
The suit, which includes an originating summons, motion on notice and motion ex parte, urges the court to make an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents from screening, confirming and/or swearing in the names of the persons as judges of the FCT High Court pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
In the main motion filed by the lawyer in person, he wants the court to make a declaration that “by virtue of the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot abdicate his duties and responsibilities to the Senate for the appointment of persons as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.”
“A declaration that the forwarding of the names of Abubakar Useni Musa, Edward Okpe, B. Abubakar, M. Francis, Jude Nwabueze, Josephine Enobi, Christopher Opeyemi, Mohammed Idris, Hassan Maryam Aliyu, Fashola Akeem Adebowale and Hamza Muazu all recommended by the National Judicial Council to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory cannot be subjected to the Senate for screening and confirmation contrary to and in breach of Section 256(2) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.”
In statement, the lawyer insisted that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad and the NJC yielded to the clamour for more judges in the FCT High Court to ease the workload on the FCT High Court to meet the cosmopolitan nature of the FCT, but “it is absurd that the President decided to purport to send only 11 names out of the 33 names painstakingly and thoroughly screened/interviewed and recommended by the NJC to the President since April this year.”
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

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