By NewsCritic Reporters
Human rights lawyer and former Vice Chairman of the Aba branch of the Nigeria Bar Association NBA, Barr. Victor Onweremadu has sued the Abia State Judicial Service Commission, JSC, and the National Judicial Council, NJC, over their planned appointment of new high court judges in Abia state, without recourse to due process.
The case with suit No FHC/IMU/CS/323/2022 in the main is seeking an order to restrain the two judicial bodies from going ahead with the appointment of about 15 new high court judges in the state as their planned appointments are in conflict with laid down procedures.
It would be recalled that the Abia State JSC recently recommended and forwarded to the NJC the list of new high court judges to be appointed for the state.
Addressing the press in Aba, Barr Onweremadu who is also the coordinator of the Igbo Lawyers Association, said he has decided to challenge the planned appointment in court in addition to formally writing to the NJC to halt the appointment because of the grave danger inherent in the appointment of such important judicial officials without adhering to laid down procedures.
” l had to go to court against the NJC and JSC Abia state, because of what I consider non compliance with the revised NJC rules of 2014 on the appointment of judges. l can tell you that in April 2022 when I was still the vice chairman of NBA Aba branch, we received a letter from the Abia state JSC giving us six names to screen and comment on for appointment as judges.
“The letter was dated April 29, 2022 and it is in compliance with order 3, rule 4 of the revised NJC guidelines of 2014. Their competence, qualifications, pedigree and credibility are some of the things that are expected to attest to because the appointment of Judges is not any how business.The future and lives of so many people are in their hands. So you cannot just bring up any body without first subjecting him or her to rigorous scrutiny by such bodies as NBA. The crux of the matter is that the list we screened was not what was given to the NJC.
“There now, you have several names that never appeared for the screening and recommendation by the Aba NBA. How can we screen 6 and more than 15 names were forwarded to the NJC for appointment as judges? It is not acceptable,” Onweremadu noted.
Barr Onweremadu further stated that on October 15, 2021, the Abia state JSC had first forwarded to the NJC the list of some judges for appointment. However, the list was rejected for not passing through due process, which include screening and recommendation by the local branches of the NBA.
In the suit filed at an Umuahia High Court Barr Onweremadu, is seeking an order of the court restraining the NJC from acting upon the list forwarded to it by the Abia State JSC for appointment as judges, pending the determination of the substantive suit on whether the list so forwarded followed laid down rules.
NewsCritic online reports that the process of appointment of judges in Abia State has been dogged by allegations of bribery and corruption.