The House of Representatives on Wednesday okayed for second reading a bill that sought to confer exclusive power to appoint chairmen and members of National and State Houses of Assembly election tribunals in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) or the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The amendment was contained in a bill jointly sponsored by Hon. James Faleke and Hon. Sunday Karimi aimed at taking the power to make those appointments which was hitherto exclusive preserve of the President, Court of Appeal.
Hon. Faleke while leading debate explained that the “The objective is to first and foremost contribute to the ongoing judicial and electoral reforms in the country, and secondly, create a system of check and balance on the process of appointing these judicial officers”.
According to him, “as it is now, the authority to appoint the judges for the tribunals as well as the appellate tribunals rests squarely on the President of the Court of Appeal in consultation with the Chief Judge of the state, the Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the state or the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of the state, depending on the state where the said tribunal members are to be appointed from”.
He further stated that,”it is believed that if where the CJN and NJC select the members of the tribunal of first jurisdiction from where contending issues go from onto appeals which in this case would be the responsibility of the President of the Court of Appeal, the actions and activity of the lower tribunal would be seen to be more objective and meritorious”.
Honourable Karimi on his part that the amendment would deepen democracy and ensure proper constitution of the tribunal.
The Bill was adopted when it was put to vote and subsequently referred to the special Ad hoc committee for the review of the 1999 Constitution, by Speaker Honourable Yakubu Dogara for further legislative input.