An anti-graft group, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has called on the acting President, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, to reverse the recently made appointment of 19 judges into the National Industrial Court (NIC).
The call was made in a letter addressed to Mr. Osinbajo on behalf of CSNAC by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the group's National Chairman. CSNAC noted that in 2012, the National Judicial Council (NJC) received petitions alleging illegal appointment of unqualified legal practitioners as judges of the National Industrial Court. The petitions, the group argued, were suppressed because official justifications were provided in support of the decision recommending unqualified candidates to former President Goodluck Jonathan for appointment as NIC judges.
CSNAC said it scrutinized the list of names approved by Mr. Osinbajo for inauguration as judges of the NIC by Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the NJC, which recommended the names, and discovered they were appointed in contravention of Section 254B (3) of the Constitution.
"Having studied the list, based on petitions forwarded to this network, we have confirmed that the National Judicial Council recommended the 19 legal practitioners for appointment in contravention of basic requirement of Section 254B (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
"In other words, the candidates have not acquired 'considerable knowledge and experience in the law and practice of industrial relations and employment conditions in Nigeria'. It may interest Your Excellency to know that there are eminently qualified practitioners with cognate experience and constitutional requirements across the country, but not recommended by National Judicial Council," CSNAC said.
The coalition advised Mr. Osinbajo to order an inquiry into the appointment of the unqualified judges, notwithstanding their inauguration by Justice Onnoghen as a way of avoiding embarrassment.
"If our allegation is confirmed, Your Excellency will be required to cancel the appointments of these unqualified judges without any delay," the coalition demanded.
CSNAC said it is committed to the integrity of the judiciary and is willing to explore every legal means to ensure constitutionality and rule of law.