NJC: No Zone is Marginalised in Judicial Appointments

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Tobi Soniyi

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has said no zone was marginalised in the appointment of justices of the Court of Appeal.
The council also said that appointment of 14 justices to the appellate court was not done in favour of the North or any other region.
Reacting to insinuation that the appointments favoured the North, the council said appointment of judicial officers to the Court of Appeal was done on merit and geographical spread.

It cited Section 2 of the Court of Appeal (Amendment) Act, 2013, whicch it said governed appointment of justices of Court of Appeal.
The section provides that the total number of justices to be appointed should not be more than 90, including the president. At present, the court has 76 justices leaving a balance of 14.

The council, in a statement issued by the Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, also released the distribution of appointments in the Court of Appeal.
NJC explained that appointment into the appellate court was on-going and that no candidate had been recommended so far.
The statement reads: “Of the 76 justices of the court, the North-central with six states plus FCT has 12 justices; North-east with six states has 12 justices plus the president; North-west with seven states has nine justices; South-east with five states has 13 justices; South-south with six states has 14 justices and South-west with six states has 15 justices.

“In considering appointment for the 14 vacancies, and to ensure that each zone is adequately represent, all states that have three serving justices were not considered unless under special circumstances.
“The states not considered are: Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, CrossRiver, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara and Oyo. “States like Adamawa, Kebbi and Sokoto have zero representation which informed the need to include them in the current exercise.

“Appointments are made to the court based on the elevation of Appeal Court justices to the Supreme Court, retirement at the age of 70 years or death. Such vacancies are filled with judicial officers from the zone of the judge who died, retired or elevated.”
The council said it was therefore unfair to claim that it recommended no candidate from the South-east which currently has 13 justices at the Court of Appeal.