Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has stated that it was constitutionally wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari to have sought Senate confirmation of 11 nominees as High Court judges of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The president had in a letter read at Senate plenary last Tuesday sought the approval of the Senate for the confirmation of 11 judges for FCT courts.
Rather, Bamidele stated that the president did not need the approval of the Senate to approve such judges once they are recommended to him by the National Judicial Council.
He, therefore, asked the upper chamber to regard the letter from the president as mere notification and information about the appointment of the judges.
The senator had at plenary yesterday raised Order 42 of Senate Standing Rules which deals with personal explanation, saying: “It has to do with a correspondence from the president which has gone beyond administrative issues, and having been read on the floor of the Senate, I believe we have to take position on it in a noncontroversial manner, and that is why I am coming under Order 42.
“Section 256 of the 1999 Constitution as amended talked about the appointment of chief judge and judges of the high court of the FCT.
“Section 256(1) reads: ‘The appointment of a person to the office of a Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, FCT, shall be made by the president on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of such appointment by the same.
“So I invite distinguished colleagues to note this with respect to the next subsection 2 the appointment of the person to the office of the judge of the FCT shall be made by the president on the recommendation of the NJC
“Simply put, I am inviting the distinguished senator to merely take note of the letter that was sent to this Senate by the president which was read yesterday on its floor. Take it merely as information that the president was appointing judges for the FCT high court.
“Of course it does not require the confirmation of the Senate as section 256(1) only invite Senate to be a part of it if a chief judge is to be appointed, but with respect to FCT judges, the president has the constitutional powers to do so.”