Friday, 27 November 2020

A SUMMARY OF THE PROCEDURE FOR APPOINTMENT OF A JUDGE OR CHIEF JUDGE OF A STATE HIGH COURT IN NIGERIA:


SUMMARY OF PROCEDURE FOR APPOINTMENT OF A STATE HIGH COURT JUDGE OR CHIEF JUDGE IN NIGERIA

 

1)    Whenever it is proposed to appoint judicial officers for a State in Nigeria, the Chairman of the State Judicial Service Commission (JSC) shall give notice to the Governor of the State of the intention to appoint specific number of judicial officers and ask for the Governor’s approval to proceed.

2)    The State JSC must forward a copy of the Notice to the NJC, at the same time as it was sent to the Governor.

3)    Upon receipt of the Notice form the State JSC, the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC) shall advise the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and Chairman of the NJC, on the number of judges than can be appointed, having regard to the budgetary provision of the NJC for the year.

4)    The CJN/Chairman of the NJC shall consider the NJC Secretary’s advice and by a notice in writing (addressed to the Chairman of the State JSC) direct (and this direction/decision is final) that the exercise (a) may proceed or (b) should not proceed or (c) may proceed with reduction in the number of judges proposed to be appointed.

5)     Upon receipt of the Notice/decision of the CJN/Chairman of the NJC that the process may proceed, the State JSC shall call for nominations and expression of interest from interested persons and giving a deadline for receipt of applications or nominations. This call for nomination or expression of interest is made in the following ways:

(a) By a Notice to this effect on the JSC website;

(b) By Notice on Court notice boards;

(c) By Notice in writing to NBA Branches within the state;

(d) By Notice in writing to judicial officers of the court concerned, for requesting nomination;

6)    Every person nominating anyone as a candidate, must do so in writing, specifying relevant qualities or credentials

7)    After close of nomination, the State JSC Chairman shall shortlist at least double the number of judges intended to be appointed

8)    The State JSC Chairman shall circulate names of the shortlisted nominees to all retired and serving judges of the court concerned and to all NBA branches in the State, and all members of the State JSC, as well as the CJN and PCA (if the appointment being proposed is the head of a court) for comments.

9)    The State JSC Chairman shall then place before the state JSC, a list of the shortlisted names, for approval

10)                    Upon the approval, with or without any modification, the provisional shortlist is the final list

11)                    The State JSC Chairman shall send to every shortlisted nominee, NJC Form A (Bio data Form) which each shall fill and return to the Chairman, together with their CV`s and all relevant documents/appendices.

12)                    Upon receipt of these documents, etc, from the shortlisted persons, the Chairman of the State JSC shall forward the following to the State JSC, for its consideration, screening and selection --- (a) Name of, and memorandum on, each of the shortlisted candidates; (b) Completed NJC Form “A” and the attachments to it; (c) Comments (if any) received in respect of each candidate, from judges (serving or retired), NBA Branches, etc; (d) Petitions (if any) received against any shortlisted candidate; (e) Detailed Medical Certificate of Fitness issued by a Government Hospital/Institution in respect of each shortlisted candidate;  (f) Security Report on each nominee by the State Security Services (SSS)

13)                    The State JSC shall then meet to decide on the names to be presented/forwarded to the NJC. The decision of the State JSC must be shown in the minutes of the meeting, which must be adopted and signed by each of the chairman and the secretary.

14)                      The State JSC shall thereafter forward a Memo containing the names of selected/successful candidates to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and requesting for NJC’s recommendation to the Governor in this respect. The Memo must be addressed to the Chairman of the NJC, giving relevant details and accompanied by (i)  the minutes of the meeting of the state JSC; (ii) all documents considered by the state JSC in respect of each of the successful candidates; (iii) proof of establishment of the particular court whose presiding judicial officer or head is sought to be appointed; (iv) proof of adequate capital vote in the current budget of the court; (v) proof of availability of residential accommodation, court hall, car, library, and all other relevant facilities. The State JSC shall not send the name of any judge candidate found to have records of impecuniosity, or have lobbied or solicited the appointment or does not possess requisite experience.

15)                    The National Judicial Council (NJC) then do its own investigations and screenings, as it deems necessary, and if satisfied, shall then recommend a candidate or candidates, to the Governor for appointment

16)                    The Governor shall appoint, and in the case of the CJ of the State, send the name to the State House of Assembly for confirmation.

17)                    The State House of Assembly (in the case of the Chief Judge) shall confirm. The appointment is complete. Please note that, with the exception of the CJ, appointment of judges of a state high court does not require confirmation by the State House of Assembly.


PLEASE NOTE:

(1) This summary given above is limited to appointment of state judicial officers. The procedure for appointment of federal judicial officers, is contained in the same Rule, subject to the Constitution.

 

(2) "Paragraph 2.1.5 of National Judicial Policy provides that The Judicial Appointment Policy will ensure that lack of comparative seniority will not be an obstacle to the appointment of deserving candidates of palpable high standard of integrity and excellence.” Paragraph 2.1.2 provides that Every aspect of judicial appointment process should, therefore, be such as would command public respect and confidence that the best persons in terms of skill, learning, integrity and courage are appointed as Judicial Officers. The national Judicial Council, 'The National Judicial Policy ' (njc.gov 2018) < https://njc.gov.ng/national-judicial-policy> accessed 22 November 2020" (See Udemezue, Sylvester, 'A Legal Homily On Why The Office Of The Chief Judge Of A State Is Not An Exclusive Inheritance Of The Most Senior Judge In The State' (nnewswirelawandevents.com November 24, 2020) < https://newswirelawandevents.com/a-legal-homily-on-why-the-office-of-the-chief-judge-of-a-state-is-not-an-exclusive-inheritance-of-the-most-senior-judge-in-the-state-by-sylvester-udemezue/> accessed 27 November 2020

 

(3) Item 6(a)(i)(ii) of Part 2 of the 3rd Schedule, CONSTITUTION of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, provides that "The state Judicial Service Commission (JSC) shall have power to:  advise the NJC on suitable persons for nomination to the office of the Chief Judge of the State, Judges of the High Court of the State".

(4) Item 21 (c) of Part I of the 3rd Schedule, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides:

“The National Judicial Council shall have power to recommend to the Governors from among the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commissions persons for appointments to the offices of the Chief Judges of the States and Judges of the High Courts of the States, the Grand Kadis and Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal of the States and the Presidents and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal of the States.”

(5) The provisions of section 271 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999:

271. (1) The appointment of a person to the office of Chief Judge of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of the appointment by the House of Assembly of the State.

271 (2) The appointment of a person to the office of a Judge of a High Court of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

271 (3) A person shall not be qualified to hold office of a Judge of a High Court of a State unless he is qualified to practice as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for a period of not less than ten years.

271 (4) If the office of Chief Judge of a State is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any person unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the Governor of the State shall appoint the most senior Judge of the High Court to perform those functions.

271(5) Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council an appointment pursuant to subsection (4) of this section shall cease to have effect after expiration of three months from the date of such appointment and the Governor shall not re-appoint a person whose appointment has lapsed.  

 

REFERENCES:

a)    The Revised National Judicial Council Guidelines & Procedural Rules for the Appointment of Judicial Officers, made on December 03, 2014 --- contains the detailed procedure for appointment of judicial officers in Nigeria.

(4) The National Judicial Policy: See The national Judicial Council, 'The National Judicial Policy ' (njc.gov 2018) < https://njc.gov.ng/national-judicial-policy> accessed 22 November 2020

b)    The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 (see < https://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/ng/ng014en.pdf> accessed 27 November 2020)

c)    Chioke, Ngozi A., Professional Ethics and Skills in Law Practice (1st ed., Snaap Press, 2016) 105-116

d)    Obi-Okoye, A., Law in Practice in Nigeria (2nd ed., Snaap Press 2015)348-357

Please, observations, comments and criticisms are invited, and highly welcome.

Summary by:

Sylvester Udemezue (udems)

08109024556, [email protected]

(27/11/2020)

Post a comment

Whatsapp Button works on Mobile Device only

Start typing and press Enter to search