- President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to ignore a petition recently addressed to him
- The petitioners had urged the president not to accept the nomination of some judges of the High Court of the FCT
- Some legal practitioners have described the contents of the petition as mischief and misguided perception
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Legal practitioners under the aegis of Lawyers in Defence of Democracy have written to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to discountenance a petition written by a group, Open Bar Initiative.
The Open Bar Initiative had written a petition urging the president not to accept the nomination of some judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory
But the Lawyers in Defence of Democracy asked President Buhari to ignore the petition and grant approval to the recommended list forwarded by the National Judicial Council.
In a statement signed by its national coordinator, Ohazuruike Tochukwu and publicity secretary, I. A. Bello, the legal practitioners said the petitioners hinged their petition on a wrongful interpretation of the law and on speculation and discrimination contrary to the clear provisions of Section 42 (2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The statement reads partly: “With due respect to our learned colleagues, they may not have been informed that on the 17th March 2016 and 19th of March, 2016 both chambers of the National Assembly passed High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (Number of Judges) (Amendment Bill) 2016 which your Excellency graciously assented to on the 31st of May, 2016.
“The summary of the contents of the Bill was to increase the number of judges of the FCT High Court from 37 to 75 to provide for a sufficient number of judges in view of the increase in the number of cases in the court’s dockets.
“Again, the petitioners alleged that the selection process violated the National Judicial Council’s laid down rules and procedures and went ahead to declare at least 22 names on the list as being unqualified. It is our contention that they hinged their petition on this leg based on a wrongful interpretation of our laws.
“The 1999 Constitution provides in Section 256 (3) that: A person shall not be qualified to hold the office of a Chief Judge or a Judge of the High Court of the Federation Capital Territory, Abuja unless he is qualified to practice as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for a period of not less than ten years.
“This with all due respect is the only qualification for a person to be appointed as a judge of the FCT High Court and no other.”
The group further described the contents of the petition as mischief and misguided perception.
It dismissed insinuations that serving and retired judges and justices were behind the composition of the list.
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