No fewer than 164 lawyers have been shortlisted for appointment as judges to fill the available 15 slots in the Federal High Court bench.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho in late December 2020 wrote relevant agencies, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) about the court’s desire to hire 15 judges.
The planned appointment, Justice Tsoho noted, were in respect of 13 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The States are Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara.
Justice Tsoho, also in the letter, dated December 20, 2021, requested the NBA, the National Judicial Commission (NJC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to “nominate suitably qualified persons” from the 13 States and the FCT in line with the NJC’s Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers.
So far, 164 lawyers from the states and the FCT have signified interest for the job.
It was also learnt that the NBA, as part of the procedure, has issued a notice to all its branches for people to comment and provide information about the personality and character of the 164 applicants.
The notice issued the NBA’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Rapulu Nduka, is titled: “Appointment of 15 additional judges for the Federal High Court: Request for petitions and opposition to the appointment of shortlisted individuals.”
The notice reads: “Recall that on the 7th day of January 2022, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) through its Judiciary Committee called for expression of interest, from suitably qualified legal practitioners from specific States in Nigeria for appointment as Judges of the Federal High Court.
“This call was based on a request for nomination sent to the NBA President by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria.
“Consequently, following receipt of expressions of interest from 164 members, the NBA, hereby publishes the names of the potential appointees and requests members of the Bar and the general public to submit petitions and/or make comments on the suitability for appointment of any of the listed members.
“The comments/petitions must be sent to the NBA Secretariat or through the designated email, on or before the 9th day of February 2022.
“This exercise is aimed at fostering the resolve and commitment of the NBA to strengthen our Judiciary by enthroning a transparent process which would ensure that only suitably qualified candidates are appointed to the Bench.”
The notice is accompanied with a list containing the names of the shortlisted applicants.