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NJC’s silence on controversy over headship of Gombe judiciary raises questions

Tongues are wagging in judiciary circles over the continued aberration in the Gombe State Judiciary over the conspiracy to deny the most senior judge there, a woman, the crowning glory of her career there as chief judge.

She has been sidelined for nearly two years, and the National Judicial Council (NJC) has remained taciturn over the brazen disobedience of its directives

At the 95th meeting of the council held on Wednesday, the 15th day of September, 2021, the NJC was said to have issued a strong warning to the Gombe State Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over its violations of lawful directives to submit the name of Hon Justice Beatrice L. Iliya, the most senior Judge in Gombe State, for consideration for appointment as the substantive Chief Judge of the State.

Inexplicably, this was not part of the public statement issued by the commission.

Recall that a similar directive was given to Gombe JSC on the 16th Dec, 2020 but the JSC headed by disobeyed the NJC without adducing any cogent reason.

Instead, it was gathered that a judge from there allegedly secretly presented himself on the 6th day of July, 2021 for an interview by the NJC Interview Committee.

However, after the interview, the NJC at its recent meeting, discovered that the Gombe JSC failed to include the name of Justice Beatrice, in the list of nominees for the top position in Gombe judiciary.
Therefore, after due consideration, the NJC outrightly canceled the interview conducted on two other judges.

Curiously, many are wondering why the first Chief Judge of the State, who rose to become the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has maintained a studied silence, leaving watchers of the ethno-religious manoeuvrings in the state wondering.

An insider asked on Saturday evening.:”Why are we not hearing of her fighting for a fellow woman like her? Is there more to all these happenings in the state? Is it because Justice Beatrice Iliya is a Christian? What happened to the traditional seniority in the judiciary? And why was the last NJC statement silent on the Gombe matter?

Meanwhile, a source asked why another judge, believed to be Iliya’s junior, has been acting as the chief judge of Gombe State for almost two years since 4th December, 2019. “Is that even constitutional?” She asked.

An exasperated female lawyer was said to have blurted out on social media: “What kind of magic was used to apply to the Governor of Gombe State and the Chief Justice of Nigeria to secure extension of his acting capacity? It is surprising that there was no time in history where the Acting capacity of any Chief Judge was extended for a record number of times as in Gombe State.” gathered that the situation has remained intractable because, unfortunately, the prime lobby group for women in the legal profession, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), has not been proactive about the matter.

As expected, none of the dramatis personnae in the bizarre drama volunteered to speak to the media.

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