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Lawyer drags Buhari, Senate to court over appointment of Judges

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Oladimeji Felix Ekengba, a legal practitioner, Thursday dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, among others before a Federal High Court, Abuja over the alleged breach of Section 256(2) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 in the appointment of judges of the FCT High Court.

In the suit with number: FHC/ABJ/CS/733/2020, Ekenogba held that President Buhari breached some constitution provisions when on July 7 he forwarded the names of 11 persons to the Senate, who include, Abubakar Useni Musa, Edward Okpe, B. Abubakar, M. Francis, Jude Nwabueze, Josephine Enobi, Christopher Opeyemi, Mohammed Idris, Hassan Maryam Aliyu, Fashola Akeem Adebowale and Hamza Muazu, to be appointed as judges of the FCT High Court.

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The president had forwarded the names to the Senate for confirmation.

Defendants in the suit are President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, and the National Judicial Council.

In the suit, which includes an originating summons, motion on notice and motion ex parte, the lawyer urged the court to make an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents from screening, confirming and/or swearing in the names of the persons as judges of the FCT High Court, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

In the main motion filed by the lawyer in person, he wants the court to make a declaration that “by virtue of the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot abdicate his duties and responsibilities to the Senate for the appointment of persons as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

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“A declaration that the forwarding of the names of Abubakar Useni Musa, Edward Okpe, B. Abubakar, M. Francis, Jude Nwabueze, Josephine Enobi, Christopher Opeyemi, Mohammed Idris, Hassan Maryam Aliyu, Fashola Akeem Adebowale, and Hamza Muazu all recommended by the National Judicial Council to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory cannot be subjected to the Senate for screening and confirmation contrary to and in breach of Section 256(2) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.”

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The lawyer held that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad and the NJC yielded to the clamor for more judges in the FCT High Court to ease the workload on the FCT High Court to meet the cosmopolitan nature of the FCT, but “it is absurd that the President decided to purport to send only 11 names out of the 33 names painstakingly and thoroughly screened/interviewed and recommended by the NJC to the President since April this year.”

The case is yet to be assigned and the date has been fixed for hearing.

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