Court fixes June 25 to deliver judgment in suit seeking to stop appointment of Appeal court justices

A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed June 25, 2021, for judgment in a suit seeking to stop the appointment of 18 new Justices for the Court of Appeal.

The trial Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date on Wednesday after parties in the matter had adopted their processes in relation to the suit.

The plaintiff in the matter, Igbo socio-cultural group, the Incorporated Trustees of Alaigbo Development Foundation, while adopting its processes prayed Justice Ekwo to stop the appointment of the appellate court Justices on the ground that the South East region had been marginalised in the selection.

The group, through its lawyer, Max Ozoaka, argued that the selection of the 18 Justices done by the National Judicial Council (NJC) violated the provisions of the 1999 Constitution through lopsidedness in the nomination.

The group alleged that the Principle of Federal Character was breached in the way and manner the Appeal Court justices were nominated and subsequently prayed the court to stop the appointment.

However, the NJC (1st respondent), represented by Paul Usoro (SAN) while arguing his preliminary objection in the matter prayed Justice Ekwo to decline jurisdiction in the matter on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to file suit.

Usoro told the court that the plaintiff was an Igbo socio-cultural organisation and that its aims and objectives did not include instituting cases of public interest.

In his own argument, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Federal Judicial Service Commission and President, Court of Appeal), Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) also urged the court to refuse to entertain the matter on the grounds that Section 20 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) did not permit the group to embark on instituting such action.

The Igbo socio-cultural group, had in its suit asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to stop the appointment of justices of the Court of Appeal over an alleged lopsidedness of the exercise.

The group urged Justice Ekwo to restrain the defendants from continuing the exercise pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

In an originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/347/21 dated March 15 and filed March 16 by their lawyer, Mr Max Ozoaka, sued the National Judicial Council (NJC), Federal Judicial Service Commission, President of the Court of Appeal, Federal Character Commission (FCC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

The group is sought a court order compelling the defendants to replace the three vacancies in the South East slots by three new justices from the zone.

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