Access to Justice, a judicial advocacy group has called for the cancellation of the ongoing process to recruit 25 new judges for the Federal High Courts across the country.
In a statement signed by Joseph Otteh its executive director in Lagos, the group said the process for the appointment of the judges was flawed on the grounds of “substantial non-compliance” with the Revised National Judicial Council Guidelines and Procedural Rules 2015.
Access to Justice in the statement explained that, “the breaches of the said guidelines are considerable, and if the current recruitment is allowed to proceed, it would seriously undermine the integrity of the reforms made in the Revised Guidelines.”
According to Otteh: “For this reason, Access to Justice urges the National Judicial Council, NJC to hold the process leading to the selection and nomination of candidates for the existing vacancies in the Federal High Court, FHC to be in manifest and substantial contravention of the Revised Guidelines and is irredeemably flawed; and to direct that the process be begun afresh.
We also urge the NJC to insist that any fresh exercise must adhere with, and be in compliance with the Revised Guidelines 2014. The Revised Guidelines seek to ensure openness, competitiveness, merit and transparency in recruitment processes as well as safeguard judicial appointments from being lobbied and politicized.”
The group said the current Federal High Court recruitment had been done in ways that conflict with the core goals of the Revised Guidelines.
The group pointed out that: “Rule 3 of the Revised Guidelines provides that the Judicial Service Commission ‘shall: call expression of interest by suitable candidates by way of public notice placed on the website of the Judicial Service Commission/Committee concerned, notice Boards of the Courts and notice Boards of Nigeria Bar Association Branches; Rule 3 of the Revised Guidelines clearly mandates the publication of a Public Notice of existing judicial vacancies calling for an expression of interest by suitable candidates in at least 3 publicly accessible forums: the website of the JSC/ FJSC, Notice Board of Courts and Notice Board of the NBA Branches.”
Access to Justice concluded in their statemet that: “The word ‘shall’ makes it mandatory that a call/ announcement be made, in the stipulated forms, for interested candidates to express interest to fill the vacant positions. According to Rule 3(3) of the Revised Guidelines, such a call for expression of interest/Nomination must bear a closing date. This rule was clearly not followed in the current recruitment process.”