By Emma Okereh
Nigeria’s President Muhammad Buhari and others have been challenged in a court by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO, Registered Trustees of Social Justice and Civil Rights Awareness Creation (RTSJCRAC), for excluding the South East geopolitical zone in the recent appointment of judges into the bench of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
In the Suit No: FHC/ABJ/C5/830/2020, filed to that effect by its counsel, Barr Alozie Nmerengwa of Dux Ducis Chambers, (FCT), the NGO: Registered Trustees of Social Justice and Civil Rights Awareness Creation (RTSJCRAC) recently dragged Mr President, the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) of the FCT, the Attorney – General of the Federation (AGF), the Senate and the Federal Character Commission (FCC) to the FCT High Court, challenging them for excluding the states in the SE in the appointment of judges into the bench of the FCT High Courts recently.
Quoting Sections 14: 3; 15: 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federation as amended, the NGO faulted in its entirety, the appointment of 11 judges into the bench of the High Court of the FCT without the inclusion of a single person from any state in the SE. This they described as discrimination to the South Eastern states.
To address it, it sought from Justice Taiwo Taiwo of Abuja High Court that the appointment be declared unlawful and contravention to the 1999 Constitution as amended. It also sought for an order of the court to mandate the defendants, jointly and severally to discontinue the recruitment exercise of appointment of the new judges to the High Court of the FCT forthwith and strictly comply with the FCC principle as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
The NGO also sought for perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants by themselves or through any of their agents, privies, licensees, employees or whomsoever, however so called from carrying on the current recruitment exercise for the appointment of the judges to the High Court of the FCT or any such recruitment in the future without adhering to the FCC principles as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
Explaining in details, he said: “Whenever federal appointments are shared, the six geopolitical zones are recognised. It happened that when appointing judges in the FCT, they keep excluding the SE since 2018, especially under this dispensation. In 2018, they appointed seven judges, no state from the SE was represented. Presently in this 2020, they are doing 11 appointments and no state from the SE is represented. As we speak today, Ebonyi and Anambra states don’t have judges in the FCT.
“This is clear under FCC and Chapter 2 of the Constitution clearly states that in every federal appointment, every zone must be carried along and none will be discriminated upon.”
Similarly, the Secretary, Board of Trustees of the NGO, Barr Tony Ihemere who spoke on behalf of the NGO confirmed it and said the injustice was already before a court of competent jurisdiction, adding that the court is the final arbiter.