Suit against NJC over ‘marginalisation of Judges’ get June 23 date

Hearing of the suit instituted by the South-Eastern group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, against the National Judicial Commission over the appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal was Wednesday fixed for June 23, 2021.

The Incorporated Trustees of the foundation had in suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/347/21, sued the NJC, Federal Judicial Service Commission, President of the Court of Appeal, Federal Character Commission, and the Attorney-General of the Federation as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

In its originating summons, the group asked the court to among other demands determine whether the defendants can disregard the principle of fairness, due process, and federal character in the appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal, with regards to the South-East Zone of Nigeria.

Also, that the court should determine whether the South-East was not entitled to three slots in the ongoing appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal to fill up the vacancies that were caused by the elevation, retirement, and death of the three justices of the Court of Appeal from the zone.

The group also prayed the court to declare the actions of the NJC, FJSC, and the President of the Court of Appeal as unjustifiable and unconstitutional for only allocating one slot to the South East.

It also asked court to declare that the zone was entitled to three slots in the ongoing appointment exercise and restrain the defendants from continuing with the exercise until the South East is accorded their rightful slots.

Meanwhile, when the matter came up for mention on Wednesday, the presiding Judge, Inyang Ekwo, stated that he had ordered for accelerated hearing of the case at the previous proceeding and had ordered the plaintiff to serve the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th defendants whose proof of service were not in the court’s file.

In his response, the plaintiff’s counsel, Max Ozoaka, told the court that he had obeyed the order of the court and served the parties accordingly.

However, Ozoaka attributed the little delay to the strike action embarked on by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, saying he was served with the processes of the 1st to 3rd defendants on Tuesday as the courts resumed after

He has therefore asked the court for five days to enable him look at the processes and file their reply.

In his own argument, counsel to the 1st defendant, Paul Usoro, SAN, told the court that they were briefed on the matter just before the strike and so were only able to file and serve their notice of preliminary objection, counter affidavit, and written address on Tuesday.

In the same vein, counsels to the 2nd and 3rd defendant, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, also attributed the delay in serving the plaintiff the process to JUSUN strike.

After granting the plaintiff’s application for adjournment, Justice Ekwo declared that the court was bound to obey its order on accelerated hearing and

Meanwhile, the 4th and 5th defendants and their lawyers were absent in court.