Concerned members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Kwara state have said that recent shortlisted 10 candidates for appointment as high court judges in the state followed due process as against opposition in some quarters.
It is recalled that a member of the NBA in the state, Sambo Muritala, had petitioned the National Judicial Commission (NJC) over the shortlisted judges on alleged violations of and non-compliance with the constitutional and statutory provisions.
In a letter to the chairman of the NJC, copied to other stakeholders in the state, one of the concerned NBA members, Taofiq Olateju, said that the judges are vibrant people of honour and proven integrity required to fill the vacant position of high court judges, adding that the petition is not only misleading, but also self-contradicting.
“The purported petition is full of falsehood and misleading. However, it is to be noted sir, that the Hon Chief Judge S.D Kawu; Chairman of the Kwara State Judicial Service Commission during the recruitment exercise strictly and fully adhered to the provision of the Constitution for Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Rules 4 and 5 of the National Judicial Council (NJC) Guidelines and Kwara State Judicial Service Commission Regulations.
“It is a common knowledge that thousands applied to be called for the interview on the vacant position of Kwara State High Court Judge, but after scrutiny, few were shortlisted and among the eligible few ipso facto are Olanipekun Sherifat Bola, (Chief Registrar of the High Court, Kwara State), Hussain Toyin Kawu (Deputy Registrar, Court Of Appeal, Abuja), Funsho Lawal Dada (Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Justice), Nurrain Kuranga (Senior Chief Magistrate), Akande Idowu (Chairman NBA), Ilorin Branch among others.
The candidates were selected on merit and not by any blood affiliation, favouritism and nepotism as wrongly alleged.
It is interesting for my Noble Lord and the whole World to see that with the qualification and year of experience, as well as the position of the shortlisted candidates, they are qualified, contrary to the allegation that qualified people were not invited for the interview which was conducted on 25/10/2019. I pray Your Lordship and the whole world to note that the grouse of the author of the said Petition was never that, interview were not conducted.
“To meet up with the global judicial practice, the present government under the leadership of His Excellency Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, within his few days in office, has constructed/renovated four new Courts and providing incentives to the Judicial Staffers contrary to the allegation that there are no available Courts and facilities”, he said.
The concerned NBA members also said that the petitioner allegedly suppressed the truth to have said that there are no available facilities to accommodate new judicial officers, adding that there are more than five empty courts, library, Judges Quarters, and others in the Kwara State Judiciary.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the High Court of Justice Headquarters Complex comprises of 14 Court Rooms situated within the same Court Premises and other eight places i.e. Offa, Erin-ile, Omuaran, Osi, Lafiagi, Kaiama, among other places.
It worth a pity, that some of the High Court Judges are presiding over more than one Court such as Hon. Justice Gegele, presiding over High Court in Omu-Aran and Osi and Hon. Justice Adebara presiding over High Court in Offa and Erin Ile respectively. Out of more than 22 courts, there are 17 High Court Judges presently in Kwara State Judiciary and one will go on retirement soon, in December 2019” he said.