Reps Stop Planned Recruitment Of Judges Into FCT High Court

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, February asked the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court Abuja and the National Judicial Council to suspend the ongoing recruitment process for vacant positions in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory until adherence to the Federal Character principle and quota system is ensured.

This decision was made following the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Igariwey Iduma Enwo (PDP, Ebony).

The House also tasked its committees on FCT Judiciary and Judiciary to investigate the Federal Character approval granted for the recruitment exercise and ensure compliance.

In his motion, Igariwey said the High Court is one of the judicial bodies in the Federal Capital Territory Judiciary established by Section 255 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

He revealed that in recent days, both the media and civil society have raised significant concerns and objections regarding the proposed list of states to fill the 12 vacant positions in the High Courts of the Federal Capital Territory.

According to him, reports circulating in the public domain indicate that the proposed list is slated to be submitted to the National Judicial Council for vetting by February 19, and subsequently to the Senate for confirmation.

He emphasized that under the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (Number of Judges) Act 2003, the Federal character principle of Nigeria must be observed in the appointment of judges to the Court.

This implies that the number of judges in the FCT High Court should represent all 36 states and the FCT.

He expressed concern that while every state in the federation has judges appointed from their respective states serving in the FCT High Court system, Ebonyi, Abia, Imo, and Bayelsa lack any indigenous representatives appointed and serving in the FCT High Court system.

He said: “Ebonyi State in particular is doubly discriminated against in that it has none of its judges appointed in the High Courts of the FCT, and yet was not listed as one of the states to apply for the vacant 12 positions sought to be filled.

“According to the FCT website, at least 7 Magistrates from the four unrepresented states of Ebonyi, Abia, Imo, and Bayelsa are currently qualified, and working in the FCT Court system as Magistrates, in addition to qualified private legal practitioners from these states who are willing and eager to apply to fill these vacant positions.

“The non-representation of judges from 4 states in the High Court System of the FCT, when some others have as many as 3 judges representing them, is a gross violation of S14(3) of the 1999 constitution which requires staffing from the 36 states and the FCT.

“The fact that the underlying philosophy of the Federal Character Commission principle is to provide equality of access in public service representations, curb dominance by one or few sections of the country, promote inclusiveness and national unity. Violation of this principle of our constitution may not only be destabilizing but could open the floodgates to litigation.”

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