Alex Enumah in Abuja
The President of the Court of Appeal, (PCA), Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, saturday disclosed that the court followed laid down procedure in the appointment of 14 justices of the court.
Justice Bulkachuwa who made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Court of Appeal judgesâ€™ conference in Abuja, added that the appointment was to fill the vacancies which arose from retirement, demise and elevation to the Supreme Court Bench of some justices from certain zones of the country.
Speaking on the activities of the appellate court, Justice Bulkachuwa said the Court of Appeal, within the year delivered a total of 3,001 judgements and has heard about 6, 963 appeals.
Allegations, bothering on exclusion of judges from the South-east zone of the country had trailed the appointment of the 14 justices to the Court of Appeal Bench, but Bulkachuwa said the judges appointed were from the zones where vacancies exist on the bench of the court.
According to her, the ongoing process of elevation of judges to the court is strictly based on merit with particular preference for judges who have distinguished themselves by the quality of their judgements in the lower courts and to fill in vacancies created by the death, retirement or elevation to the Supreme Court of former justices.
The PCA said the annual conference of the court, which takes place every December is a tradition to bring together the justices of the Court of Appeal to brainstorm on the successes so far recorded with a view to highlighting and proffering solutions to the issues raised.
â€œSometimes ago, the judiciary came under heavy attacks on allegation of corrupt practices. As judicial officers, it is not enough to simply talk about corrupt practices but one must believe in the fight against corruption and we must work at it together.
â€œI urge us all to eschew corruption and uphold best practices that will rekindle and bring back trust to the judicial arm of government. Letâ€™s not ask how corruption can be tackled; our main focus should be on what we can do as individuals, or collectively as a body to address this plague,â€ she said.
In his remarks, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, commended the justices of the Court of Appeal for keying into his vision to reform the judiciary and decongesting the courts by speedy conclusion of matters pending before various divisions.
He charged the judges to be courageous, fair, firm and to stick to the constitutional provisions, the law and doctrine of precedent in the discharge of their duties.
Onnoghen further enjoined the justices to be in absolute control of their court and the information put in the public domain, adding that they should do less of damage control, and more of pro-active dissemination of information.