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April 12, 2021

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Group files suit to stop appointment of new Appeal Court judges

3 min read


An Igbo socio-cultural group has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking an order stopping the ongoing appointment of Justices of the Court of Appeal.

The group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, cited alleged lopsidedness in the appointment as its grounds for opposing the exercise.

A list of 18 candidates was recently recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment as judges of the Court of Appeal.

The plaintiff alleged that the “principles of justice, fairness, equity, due process and federal character” were ignored, disregarded or infringed upon at the detriment of the slots entitled to by the South-East zone in the ongoing appointment.

According to the group, the South-East zone made up of predominantly Igbo is entitled to three slots to replace the vacancies occasioned by the retirement of judges from the zone on the Court of Appeal bench.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the plaintiff, through its lawyer, Max Ozoaka, filed the originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/347/21 on March 16.

It sued the National Judicial Council (NJC), Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), President of the Court of Appeal, Federal Character Commission (FCC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

Federal High Court Headquarters, Abuja
Federal High Court Headquarters, Abuja

It sought among others, “A declaration that the South-East zone is entitled to three new slots in the ongoing exercise of appointment of the justices of the Court of Appeal in direct replacement or filling of the vacancies in the bench of the Court of Appeal currently existing in the South East Zone which arose from the elevation, retirement and death of three justices of the Court from the zone.”

It also sought an order “restraining the defendants, especially the 1st,2nd and 3rd defendants from continuing the ongoing exercise of appointment of justices of the Court of Appeal unless and until the South East zone is accorded its rightful entitlement in the exercise.”

Monday’s hearing

However, when the matter was called on Monday, only the lawyer representing the 3rd defendant (Appeal Court President), Y. C. Maikyau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was in court, besides the plaintiff’s lawyer.

Although the plaintiff’s lawyer, Mr Ozoaka, told the court that all the defendants were served with the processes through the court bailiff, the proofs of service were not in the court file.

The judge, Inyang Ekwo, who said the case ought to be heard expeditiously, ordered an abridgment of time within which the matter the defendants are to respond to the suit.

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He also directed that the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th defendants should be served with the hearing notices and should file their processes within five days of receiving the notice.

The judge adjourned the matter till April 8 for hearing.

(NAN)

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