The Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) lied when it claimed, in explaining the absence of any nominees from the Southeast region into the Court of Appeal, that all of the slots for the region were already filled, an inside source said today.
The lopsided list was exposed by SaharaReporters two days ago.
The list of 14 judges recommended by the NJC for elevation shows that most judges were chosen from the northern region, with only four from the South, and none from the Southeast.
Since our story, the NJC, through its Secretary Soji Oye, has been trying hard to defend the anomaly, even first declaring the list to be fake. Later, after a spokesperson for the Chief Justice of the Federation, tacitly admitted the authenticity of the list, Mr. Oye found a new explanation: that the Southeast wasn’t given a slot because all their vacancies had been filled.
SaharaReporters has found out that at least one slot was vacant for Enugu State after a judge at the Court of Appeal from Enugu was elevated to the Supreme Court. Enugu has two judges: Raphael Agni and Anthony Ogakwu in the Court of Appeal following the elevation of Justice Chima Centus Nweze to the Supreme Court.
Reviewing that situation, our source affirmed that the claim that there was no open slot for the Southeast was false.
The list of the nominated judges includes P.A Mahmoud, the wife of current President of the Nigerian Bar Association, AB Mahmoud; Justice F. A Ojo, the wife of a former NBA President and former Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo; Ebowei Tobi, a son of a former Supreme Court justice, Nikki Tobi; and MB Idris, also a son of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Legbo Kutigi. The NBA President’s wife works at the Kano High Court but she is taking the slot of Benue, her home state.
One of the explanations given for the high number of nominees, particularly for Kebbi State, is that Justice Amina Augie who was elevated to the Supreme Court by President Muhammadu Buhari opened up one slot in that state, but legal insiders recalled that when she was to be elevated Kebbi State officials opposed her nomination to take their slot, arguing she was from Anambra State even though she had been married to an indigene, Adamu Augie of the Nigerian Television Authority who died in an auto accident. Mr. Augie served in Sokoto before Kebbi was carved out of the present day Sokoto State. Mrs. Augie had to be elevated to the Supreme Court more or less as a “National candidate.”