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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Two-time election tribunal judges barred from re-appointment

Two-time election tribunal judges barred from re-appointment

Hon. Justice W.S. Nkanu Onnoghen GCON

Judges who have twice served on various election petition tribunals in the country will not be re-appointed for the same assignment in 2019.

This is part of the judiciary new 29-point reform policy driven by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The policy said to have been ratified by both the National Judicial Council and the National Judicial Institutes, both of which are chaired by the CJN, stated that the current practice whereby some judges were repeatedly appointed on the recommendations of Chief Judges, had been ditched.

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Apart from the CJN, other critical stakeholders in the judiciary, such as the Attorney-General of the Federation, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judges of the Federal High Court, the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, among others, are on the NJI board of governors.

The reform document, disclosed by the CJN’s Senior Special Assistant, Mr. Awassam Bassey, in the newly-launched internal magazine of the Supreme Court, ‘Apex Quarterly’, contained other reform agenda.

They include disallowing judges to buy their official residences.

Also, in response to media criticisms that the NJC was shielding judges accused of acts of misconduct, the policy had now mandated the council’s panels to fast-track their investigations and submit their reports within three weeks.

It stated that more investigative panels of the council would be constituted in view of the increasing number of petitions written against judicial officers.

It also reiterated, as contained in the previous policies churned out by the NJC, that no judge should travel outside Nigeria without the permission of the CJN.

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The new policy stated in part, “Judicial officers that have not had the opportunity of serving on the election petitions tribunals are to be recommended and appointed, instead of the current practice whereby some judicial officers are repeatedly appointed on the recommendation of their heads of court.

“Unless it is necessary, no judicial officer who has served twice on an election tribunal will be re-appointed.

“This will allow every judicial officer to also benefit from the experience gained as a chairman or member of the election tribunal.”

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