Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court in Abuja, has summoned the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to appear before it and give reason for the delay or refusal to swear in eight judges-designate of the Edo State High Court, who were recommended for appointment as High Court judges by the National Judicial Council (NJC) since June 2023.
Justice Egwuatu issued the order while delivering ruling in an exparte application challenging the delay and or refusal of Obaseki to swear in the judges.
The case with suit number: FHC/ABJ/1634/2023, which was instituted as a public interest litigation by an Edo-born lawyer, Adaze Andrew Emwanta, has as respondents the Governor of Edo State, the state Attorney General and the National Judicial Council (NJC).
After listening to plaintiff’s/applicant’s counsel, Dafenone Akpomudiare, the court held that: “An order of this court is made for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants/respondents, their assigned agents however so called to show cause why the reliefs of the plaintiff/applicant in his originating summons should not be granted with respect to the prolonged delay and/or refusal of the 2nd and 3rd respondents to swear in the eight (8) judicial officers-designate recommended by the 1st defendant/respondent as judges of the Edo State High Court.”
The court subsequently adjourned the matter to January 22, 2024.
Under the Federal High Court rules, the governor and other defendants in the case have three days to comply with the order to show cause, by filing their court processes as respondents to the order of court.
The NJC just two days back rejected a request from the Governor of Osun State on a particular judicial appointment.
At its 104th meeting of 6 and 7 December 2023 presided over by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the NJC declined the request of Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State asking for approval of the next most senior High Court Judge of the state to function as Acting Chief Judge.
The NJC affirmed that Justice Ojo is still the recognized Chief Judge of Osun State, and would not work on the resolution of a state House of Assembly, as it is the only body constitutionally empowered to investigate judicial officers and recommend same for any action to the governor.
Consequently, Osun State should revert to status quo.