No Law Was Breached in Appointment of 14 Justices to Appeal Court Bench – Bulkachuwa

Against the backdrop of criticisms that trailed the recent appointment of Justices to the Appeal Court, the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, on Thursday, said that due process was followed in the appointment of 14 Justices into the Bench of the Court of Appeal.
Justice Bulkachuwa who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Court of Appeal Judges’ Conference held at the headquarters of the Court in Abuja, added that the appointment was to fill vacancies which arose from retirement, demise and elevation to the Supreme Court Bench of some Justices from certain zones of the country.
She disclosed that the Court of Appeal, within the year delivered a total of 3,001 judgements and has heard about 6,963 appeals.
Allegations, bothering on exclusion of Judges from the South East zone of the country, had trailed the appointment of the 14 Justices to the Court of Appeal Bench, but Bulkachuwa said the Judges appointed were from the zones where vacancies existed on the Bench of the court.
She said the ongoing process of elevation of Judges to the Court is strictly based on merit with particular preference for Judges who have distinguished themselves by the quality of their judgements in the lower courts and to fill in vacancies created by the death, retirement or elevation to the Supreme Court of former justices.
The PCA said the ‎annual conference of the court, which takes place in December every year is a tradition to bring together, the Justices of the Court of Appeal to brainstorm on the successes so far recorded with a view to highlighting and proffering solutions to the issues raised.
“Sometimes back, the Judiciary came under heavy attacks on allegation of corrupt practices. As judicial officers, it is not enough to simply talk about corrupt practices but one must believe in the fight against corruption and we must work at it together.
“I urge us all to eschew corruption and uphold best practices that will rekindle and bring back trust to the judicial arm of government. Let’s not ask how corruption can be tackled; our main focus should be on what we can do as individuals, or collectively as a body to address this plague”, she said.
In his own remarks, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen commended the Justices of the Court of Appeal for keying into his vision to reform the judiciary and decongesting the courts by speedy conclusion of matters pending before various divisions.
According to him, “As you must be aware, the narrative and public perception of the Judiciary is changing. This, to my mind, is an indication that the judiciary remains the beacon of hope of any society.
“It is my desire, and I believe yours too, that at the end of my tenure, I would be leaving a judiciary that has been returned to its glory as a noble and enviable institution in every sense of the word. When the Nigerian judiciary is mentioned anywhere in the world, it would evoke courage, integrity and pride.
“As you may be aware, the National Judicial Council at its just concluded meeting, approved the elevation of 14 Judges to the Court of Appeal to fill in vacancies that had existed hitherto in the Court.
“This will certainly help to reduce the work load for the Justices of the Court, as well as help in your preparations as we approach election year in our Country.
The CJN charged the Justices to be in absolute control of their courts.
He charged the Judges to be courageous, fair, firm and to stick to the constitutional provisions, the law and doctrine of precedent.

Author: News Editor

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