Henry Ojelu and Onozure Dania
Last week, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Olumide Akpata expressed concern over the poor screening of candidates applying for appointment as judges of the Court of Appeals.
Transmitting his disappointment with the entire screening exercise, Akpata reportedly told NBA NBA-NEC members at their quarterly meeting in Uyou, Akwa Ibom state, that the screening exercise was similar to an “old school boy meeting”. ‘
Akpata was quoted as saying: “What I saw and experienced at the NJC meeting on the appointment of judges of the Court of Appeals left me dissatisfied. At one point, I as “Johnny Just Come” (new attendee) had to ask, “Are these people really going to the Court of Appeals?” It was not possible to answer the important legal questions that were occasionally asked of the nominees.
“The whole process looks more like a meeting of old school boys.
“When I asked myself that, I heard things like, ‘He’s going to study at work.’ We were supposed to interview 20 nominees at one time, but only two hours allotted for this important exercise. That meant six minutes just for each nominee. What is this? I assure you that the NBA will never be a participant in rubber stamps on such bodies. You can quote me. ”
The law and human rights collected that out of 20 candidates nominated for appointment, two withdrew due to the inability to answer basic legal questions.
Akpate, meanwhile, seems to have resonated with many senior jurists who believe that the process of vetting judicial officials should be reconsidered immediately.
The recommendation of Dahir Musdapher – Agbakoba, SAN must be followed
Former NBA President Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, believes the only way to ensure that judicial officials are properly vetted is the adoption of the recommendation of the retired board of the main court, Dahiru Musdapher.
He said: “I understand that there has been a lot of controversy regarding the recent list of judges of the Court of Appeals. To eliminate these challenges, simply make the appointment process completely transparent, as recommended by the high-level committee set up by Chief Justice Dahiru Musdapher. The Committee comprehensively reviewed the justice sector and recommended the roots and sectoral transformation of the judicial process. It was a great honor and honor for me to be part of that committee. Unfortunately, with the voluntary retirement of Mr. Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who became one of the great reformers, everything came to a standstill. My suggestion is that the recommendations to Dahir Musdapher be implemented immediately. ”
Bad bench equals bad justice – Ozekhome, SAN
Warning of the implications of poor review, Dr. Mike Ozekhome said: “Poor screening of candidates for any position in the judiciary leads to poor results. Poor results lead to a bad bench. A bad bench leads to a bad justice system. A poor justice delivery system leads to a miscarriage of justice. The failure of justice leads to injustice. Injustice leads to anger.
Anger leads to violence. Violence leads to destruction. Destruction leads to insecurity. Because of insecurity, our dear nation is in danger. It is an endless cycle of misfortune that can be avoided by doing the right thing.
Applicants check vigorously and rigorously and let the best appear. This will lead to the enthronement of a virile, an independent and courageous judiciary, brought together by men and women of courage, integrity, honor and dignity.
The process must be transparent, open —Prof Ojukwu, SAN
Law professor Ernest Ojukwu insists that in order for the best hands to be appointed as judicial officials, the process from shortlisting to final appointment must be transparent and open. He said: “Marking the NJC’s poor appointment process by the NBA president is an honest, important and courageous call. We expected past presidents of lawyers and representatives of the NJC to make such calls for too long, but only Akpata showed that sincerity and boldness. The only reason membership in such bodies has involved members of the Bar and the public is to raise standards and responsibilities. The appointment of judges in Nigeria should be understood as one of the most critical democratic projects and challenges facing the state.
“The judiciary and the judicial system and the entire platform of the rule of law and administration will collapse if we do not determine the best in terms of competence and ethical values for judges, cadets and judges. The process of appointing judges and misdemeanors must be fully open and transparent to the public from the moment people show interest in appointing judges and judges, to the shortlist and recommendation phases. Currently, the procedure is anything but transparent. We do not have a majority on the bench as the best in terms of competence and integrity.
Screening must focus on character, credibility – Pedro, SAN
The former Attorney General in Lagos, Mr. Lawal Pedro, SAN, is of the opinion that the vetting of judicial officers should focus more on the character and credibility of the candidates.
According to him: “The promotion of judges to the Court of Appeals and judges to the Supreme Court is an improvement in the judiciary and I do not see anything wrong with that. In my opinion, with respect, the projection refers more to the character and credibility of the candidate, because he spent the required number of years on the lower bench and was nominated, he is qualified for promotion. The NBA president’s concerns are not new, but only underscore the need to review the country’s overall judicial architecture if we want change and positive development in that hand of government for more efficient and effective administration of justice. “
Akpata’s observation must be taken seriously — Let’s say, SAN
Underlining the seriousness of Akpate’s observations, Seyi Sowemimo SAN said, “As President of the NBA, Mr. Akpate’s observations deserve to be taken seriously.
If the quality of elevated judges is low, then we should be willing to live with a pale judiciary that will work below expectations. It is a great pity that we are not in favor of building permanent institutions in this country.
The legal profession needs a complete overhaul – Ojo
Law lecturer Gbenga Ojo believes the problem identified by Akpata is a reflection of the decline of the Nigerian justice system. He proposed a holistic reform of the legal system. He said: “You will be shocked by the quality of the judgments of our courts, including the courts of appeal. Some of them lack legal practice, analysis and creative thinking.
Some barely cite principles with one or two cases that have simply been applied to the facts of the case. The consequence of the NBA president’s observation is judicial mediocrity. It is sad and sad. You must read the judgments of the English and Indian courts and you will be amazed at the analysis and critical review of the existing cases for and against and the valid conclusions.
“In Nigeria, the courts hardly rely on the line of government, and other authorities will not be taken into account to the contrary. Finally, our legal reports abound with judgments that are inconsistent. The whole thing is embarrassing. You can follow him to legal education at some universities, where specialization is a thing of the past.
The lecturer barely has knowledge of the text. This is because a doctorate in Islamic law teaches land law. That’s sad! Some of the faculties are an academic jungle. The products are not half baked; sometimes they don’t bake at all. Some of them will nepotism become misdemeanor judges, judges of the High Court and now judges of the Court of Appeals. A complete overhaul of our legal education is needed. We must thank Mr. Akpati for calling things things. God will bless him for exposing rot. It covers all sectors. “
Akpata must mobilize the Bar Association to protest – Ugwummadu
A former executive director of the Human Rights Committee, CDHR, Mr. Malachy Ugwummadu said that, after making his observation, Akpata should mobilize members of the Bar Association to protest the NJC’s exercise.
He said: “The observation of Akpate during the examination of the appointed judges of the Court of Appeals is serious. The president of the Bar Association is considered to fully understand the weight of his statement, which has now been made public. As the leader of a major stakeholder (bar association) in the justice sector in Nigeria, I commend his courage and sincerity in speaking up unlike his colleagues who may be equally aware but trumpeting in muffled trumpets over such a sensitive issue.
“However, he must go beyond lamentations and mobilize the entire Bar Association to protest what he has just noticed and demand an appropriate vetting exercise that will restore public confidence and convince practitioners and even the bench that our judiciary remains reliable and trustworthy in character, conscience and sound legal knowledge. This is very important, because in legal practice the notion of justice runs away not at the moment you lose the case, but at the moment when the public loses confidence in what is happening there. Indeed, the president and the bar association can investigate serious legal measures until they are done to redeem the integrity and image of the Nigerian judiciary. “
Vanguard News Nigeria