The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, and others, yesterday, prayed the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja to dismiss a suit filed by a lawyer, Azubuike Oko, seeking to stop the appointment of 12 judges into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.

Akinlolu Kehinde, SAN, who appeared for Ariwoola, the Chief Judge (CJ) of the FCT, Hussein Baba-Yusuf, and National Judicial Council (NJC), told Justice Inyang Ekwo, while adopting their processes and presenting their argument against the suit.

In a preliminary objection dated and filed March 1 by the senior lawyer, Kehinde urged the court to strike out or dismiss the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/205/3024 for want of jurisdiction.

The counsel, who gave four-ground of arguments, said under Section 6(6)(c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution is non-justiciable. He argued that Oko, the plaintiff, lacked the locus standi to institute the action.

“Under Section 245C(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the National Industrial Court of Nigeria has exclusive jurisdiction to determine matters relating to or connected with the employment of judicial officers.

“Under Section 245C(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the National Industrial Court of Nigeria has exclusive jurisdiction to determine matters relating to or connected with/ and any dispute over the interpretation and application of Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution as it relates to the employment of judicial officers,” Kehinde argued.

Related News

In the affidavit in support of the preliminary objection deposed to by Kemi Esene, a litigation secretary in the law firm of Kehinde and Partners, she told Justice Ekwo that on September 30, 2020, the honourable court dismissed a similar suit.

She said the suit marked: FC/ABJCS/602/2020, filed by JRP Foundation Ltd against the former President Muhammadu Buhari and 24 others, was dismissed on June 10, 2020. Esene said the suit had challenged the recommendation of 21 persons by the NJC to Buhari for appointment as judges of the High Court of the FCT. She said the plaintiff had alleged that the Judicial Service Committee of the FCT acted in bad faith and grossly abused the power vested in it when it submitted the list of nominees for appointment as judges of the FCT High Court to NJC.

The lawyer averred that the court, in its judgment, upheld the preliminary objection of the defendants and said that since the plaintiff was not a party to the procedure for the appointment of the judicial officers, the foundation had no locus to institute the action.

Besides, she said the court held that FHC had no jurisdiction over the matter because the subject matter had to do with employment of the persons recommended by NJC to be appointed as judges by the former president.

When the case was called yesterday, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Nkemakolam Okoro, told the court that the matter was adjourned for hearing and that they were ready to proceed. Okoro said he filed an originating summons dated February 16. He said upon receipt of the counter affidavit jointly filed by FCT CJ, NJC and CJN, he filed a response on March 4. He said he equally filed a counter affidavit on March 4 to oppose their preliminary objection. Okoro urged the court to grant their reliefs.

Akinola Fasanmi, who appeared for Nigeria’s president and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), adopted all the processes filed by Kehinde. Justice Ekwo adjourned the suit until March 15 for judgment.