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The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad has included lawyers among those to be considered in the next round of nominations as Supreme Court Justices.
Muhammad, who is also the Chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), announced this in a January 19, 2022 letter to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
According to the letter, only six suitably qualified lawyers would be selected from a pool of candidates drawn from five of the country’s geopolitical zones.
They would fill six current or future vacancies on the Supreme Court seat.
There are currently 16 justices on the Supreme Court bench, out of a maximum of 21, and some of them are expected to retire soon.
Apart from the South-East which would obtain two slots, and the North-East which is excluded from it, the other zones would each obtain one slot.
The content of the CJN letter was set out in a February 7, 2022 statement to attorneys signed by NBA Judiciary Committee Chairman Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN.
In the NBA’s statement from its Publicity Secretary, Dr. Rapulu Nduka, last Saturday, the CJN called for the appointment of suitably qualified individuals to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria to fill “current or impending vacancies “.
The CJN’s proposal responds to years of pressure from stakeholders, particularly the Corps of Principal Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), for its members and distinguished scholars to be appointed to the highest echelons of the country’s judiciary.
The proposal has not been implemented by successive NJCs since the tenure of Justice Mohammadu Uwais who served between 1995 and 2006.
Since independence, the last two supreme justices to be appointed by the bar were former Justice CJN Teslim Elias in 1972 and Justice Augustine Nnamani in 1979.
The NBA statement reads: “Dear Colleagues, SUBJECT: APPOINTMENT OF SIX (6) SUPREME COURT BENCH JUDGES: CALL FOR EXPRESSION OF INTEREST.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission has, by letter dated 19th January 2022, called for the appointment of suitably qualified persons to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria to fill six current or imminent vacancies .
“Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) from the geopolitical areas listed above who are suitably qualified and wish to apply for appointment to the seat of the Supreme Court are requested to submit an expression of interest to the National Secretariat of the NBA on or before February 21, 2022,” he said.
The statement instructed attorneys to address their letter of interest to the NBA president and that it should include the following: “A copy of the candidate’s Curriculum Vitae; A copy of the applicant’s certificate of calling the bar; Proof of payment of Bar Practice Fees (BPF) within the past 10 years; Proof of payment of NBA branch dues for the past 10 years; Proof of attendance at NBA conferences; Proof of membership in NBA sections or forums; Judgments rendered in contested cases that the plaintiff conducted during the five years preceding 2022 certified by the competent authorities for legal practitioners in private practice.
“It must also include a letter of good character from the president of the candidate’s division confirming that he possesses the qualifications set out in Rule 4(4)(1)(a), (b) and (d) of the CNM. Lines Guidelines for Appointing Bailiffs for Superior Courts of Record,” he said.
According to the guidelines, the qualities are “(a) Good character and reputation, diligence and hard work, honesty, integrity and good knowledge of the law and consistent adherence to professional ethics; as the case may be: “(b) Active and successful practice at the bar, including satisfactory presentation of cases before the courts as a practitioner of the law, either in private practice or as a lawyer in a public service”; d) Credible experience in teaching law, conducting legal research at a reputable university and publishing legal books…”
The statement adds that upon receipt of expressions of interest, the National Secretariat will publish the names of interested candidates and solicit comments from NBA members.
As part of proposed reforms in the administration of the court system, the NBA in 2017 forwarded the names of six Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) and three other attorneys to the acting CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for consideration for appointment to the post of supreme judge. Court Judges.
Then-NBA President AB Mahmoud, in a letter sent to the emails of all registered attorneys, invited applications from suitably qualified jurists for appointment to the Supreme Court, pursuant to Section 231 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The section provides that: “A person shall not be qualified to hold the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria or a Justice of the Supreme Court unless he is qualified to practice law in Nigeria and he has been for a period of at least more than 15 years. »
Consequently, nine silks were shortlisted by the lawyers’ group from the 89 expressions of interest received.
The nominees were – Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Anthony Idigbe (SAN); former Attorney General of Abia and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN); Yunus Usman (SAN) and Babatunde Fagbohunlu (SAN).
Others are Miannayaaja Essien (SAN) (1985, Rivers); Teacher. Awa Kalu (SAN) (1978, Abia); Professor Awalu Yadudu (1979, Kano), Tajudeen Oladoja (1985, Kwara) and Ayuba Giwa (1983, Edo).
But the proposal fell through before Onnoghen’s exit.

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