Emerging report revealed that out of the 33 newly recommended Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Judges by the National Judicial Council, NJC, at least 9 of them are either children or relations of current or retired Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
The 33 Judges are among the 64 Judicial Officials for States, including the FCT High Courts, recommended for appointment by the NJC, in a document dated April 22, 2020, and released on April 26.
The appointment of these nominees has been characterised by controversy, especially by those who believe that their selection was not based on merit, but on the strength of the influence of their fathers, mothers, or relations, who at one time or another, have been senior Judicial Officers.
One of the critics who have condemned the FCTA Judicial Authorities on its nominees, is Silas Joseph Onu, a former Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Abuja Chapter.
Onu argued that although they were elevated, the nominated Candidates lack the requisite qualities needed for the job.
“Some of these privileged children are Magistrates with questionable qualities for the job, yet they got elevated ahead of known Magistrates who have served for a longer period, with years of experience and dedication to duty”, Onu said in a report.
His position is not different from that expressed by Open Bar Initiative, a platform run by a group of Legal Practitioners, in three separate petitions, all calling for the cancellation, in what is believed to be “judicial insider dealing”.
The co-Conveners of the group are Silas Onu and Chidi Odinkalu, a former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC.
Another point of concern raised by Odinkalu, is why the FCT High Court Chief Judge, Justice I. U. Bello, had earlier announced that they were in the process of appointing 15 new Judges, only for the NJC to release a list containing 33 names, representing a 45 percent increase.
The petition also alleged that some of the nominations were in clear “violation of applicable NJC rules for selection and appointment of Superior Court Judges”, adding that, one particular name, Olufola Olufolashade Oshin, who was not on the list of shortlisted Candidate, was added at the 11th hour.
In addition, it was also found that at least 9 out of the 33 nominated persons are directly related either by blood or marriage to current and retired Justices.
See the nominees and their family ties
1. Njideka Nwosu-Iheme
Njideka Nwosu-Iheme, 36, who is the daughter of Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, is one of the names on the list. Nwosu-Iheme was appointed into the FCT Judiciary in March 2015, and currently serves as Magistrate I at the Wuse, Zone 6 Magistrates court.
2. Fatima Abubakar Aliyu
Another name on the heavily criticised list is Fatima Abubakar Aliyu, 35, a Judicial worker, who is the daughter of the immediate-past President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
3. Hafsat Abba-Aliyu
42-year-old Hafsat Abba-Aliyu was sworn-in as a Magistrate I for the FCT Judiciary, in March 2015. She is the daughter of Justice Uwani Abba-Aji of the Supreme Court.
4. Mimi Anne Katsina Alu-Apena
Mimi Anne Katsina Alu-Apena, 46, is the daughter of late Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, who died on July 18, 2018.
5. Ibrahim Mohammed
Ibrahim Mohammed, 40, is the son of a former Grand-Khadi of the FCT.
He hails from Buji LGA of Jigawa State, and was appointed into the FCT Judiciary in May 2005. He currently serves as Senior Magistrate II at the Wuse Zone 6 Magistrates court.
6. Kanyip Rosemary Indinya
Kanyip Rosemary Indinya is the wife of the President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Kanyip. She is also a sister of a member of the National Judicial Council.
She hails from Donga Local Government Area of Taraba State; and was appointed into the FCT Judiciary in 2004, and currently serves as a Chief Magistrate II in Bwari.
7. Mohammed Idris Sani
Sani is the son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi.
Before his death, Kutigi was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Niger State. He also served as a High Court Judge, and joined the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1992, where he served as Chief Justice, from January 30, 2007 until December 30, 2009.
He died in October 2018.
8. Nwabulu Chineze
Currently serving as a Deputy Director at the FCTA, 57-year-old Nwabulu is said to be a sister to the presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Akure, Ondo State
9. Enenche Eleojo
46-year-old Eleojo serves as an Assistant Director at the FCT High Court, and also a Personal Assistant to the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court.