“Controversy Surrounds Supreme Court Nomination List, Sparks Tension Among Senior Justices”

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By Milcah Tanimu

The recent release of the list of nominees for Supreme Court justices by the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) has ignited a clash among senior serving and retired justices, raising concerns over the politicization of the appointment process. Some justices, both serving and retired, have expressed dissatisfaction with the list, highlighting alleged discrepancies in the prioritization of candidates.

According to sources, the nomination process has been marred by controversy, with specific concerns raised about the selection criteria and the allocation of priority and reserve slots for different regions. The alleged prioritization of certain candidates over others, including the placement of a judge with over 15 years of experience as a reserve candidate, has added fuel to the growing discontent among the legal community.

In particular, the case of the North-Central zone, where the son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria was given priority while a senior jurist with extensive experience was placed as a reserve candidate, has been labeled as controversial. Similarly, the South-South slot, where the candidate with the highest rating was designated as a reserve, has raised eyebrows.

Critics within the legal fraternity argue that the appointment of Supreme Court justices should be based on merit and not influenced by political considerations or personal relationships. They question the sudden emergence of candidates who were not initially shortlisted during the processing phase.

However, a source from the Office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) downplayed the concerns, emphasizing that the appointment process considers various factors, including years of service and individual integrity. The source suggested that changes in the list over the years could be attributed to evolving circumstances and the need to select the most qualified candidates.

Despite the controversy, legal experts acknowledge the excellence of many of the nominated justices and express confidence in the overall quality of the list. Some argue that the judiciary must remain organized and uphold the principles of hard work and competence in the elevation of justices.

In response to the criticism, a law professor, Sam Erugo, emphasized the conservative nature of the judiciary and the need for a rigorous campaign for change to influence social reforms. He noted that the bar’s influence in such appointments is currently limited, and criteria for assessing practicing lawyers or academics for direct appointment to the Supreme Court are not well-established.

The Supreme Court nomination list, which includes 22 justices, will undergo further scrutiny by the NJC, with the final selection process expected to determine the candidates who will fill the 11 vacant positions in the Supreme Court.


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