The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN) on Monday, decried the continued interference of the executive arm of government and politicians in the process of appointment of judicial officers; stressing that such act threatens the independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers.
The body which noted the trend both at the federal and states level said it is a subtle means of intimidating, directing and controlling the third arm of government.
BoSAN, while presenting its grievances at the opening of the 2020/2021 Legal Year of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), lamented that, “for one whole year, the final decisions and recommendations of the National Judicial Council on appointment of Justices were kept under cooler, without any explanation even to the NJC other than to show superiority over or power to control the Judiciary.
Foremost senior lawyer and Life Bencher, Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, who presented the address of BoSAN, said that the process of appointment of judicial officers at all levels “have manifested outright disregard for the principle of separation of powers and independence of the Judiciary”.
“It is bizzare when the National Judicial Council recommended the appointment of 32 judges and at the end, after an administrative review by people who are not qualified to do so, only 11 scaled through the controlling administrative process”, he said.
While he conceded that the constitution donates the power of appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court and some other judicial officers to the president, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, he argued that a holistic reading of the constitution, “does not allow subjecting the final decision of the NJC on such matters of appointment…to any administrative inquisition or review by people who are not technically competent to review such decisions”.
Awomolo urged that if the relevant provisions of the constitution are in doubt, then the NBA and relevant Non-Governmental Organizations should seek and interpretation of the law.
He added that in the alternative the constitution should be amended so that “recommendation of the NJC shall be submitted directly to the Senate where confirmation of the Senate is required and then forwarded to the President as the appointing authority.
“Indeed, I am of the view that the process for confirmation of appointment should precede the decision of the appointing authority, the President where necessary.
“A culture where everyone appears overwhelm and kept in silence in fear is unacceptable. It is intimidation, suppression and humiliation of the Judiciary as an arm of government.”