A Federal High Court in Abuja has scheduled judgment for June 25 in a suit seeking to challenge the appointment of 18 new Justices for the Court of Appeal.
Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo chose the date on Wednesday after parties in the case filed by a group – the Incorporated Trustees of Alaigbo Development Foundation – made their final submissions.
Defendants in the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/347/21 are the National Judicial Council (NJC), Federal Judicial Service Commission, President of the Court of Appeal, Federal Character Commission (FCC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
The group, represented by Max Ozoaka, is praying the court to stop the appointment of the appellate court Justices on the grounds that the South-east geo-political zone was allegedly marginalised in the selection process.
It argued that the selection of the 18 Justices done by the National Judicial Council (NJC) violated the provisions of the 1999 Constitution through lopsidedness in the nomination.
The group claimed that the Principle of Federal Character was not complied with in the way and manner the Appeal Court justices were nominated and subsequently prayed the judge to stop the appointment.
The first respondent, the NJC, represented by Paul Usoro (SAN) while arguing his preliminary objection, urged the court to decline jurisdiction on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to file the suit.
Usoro added that the plaintiff was an Igbo socio-cultural organisation and that its aims and objectives did not include instituting cases of public interest.
He contended that photocopy of certificate of incorporation of the group certified by a court registrar was tendered, adding that only officials of the Corporate Affairs Commission are empowered to certify such documents and urge the court to dismiss the case.
The second and third defendants – Federal Judicial Service Commission and President, Court of Appeal – who were represented by Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) urged the court to decline jurisdiction on the grounds that Section 20 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) did not permit the group to engage in filing such cases.