“The risk and dangers of mediocrity and incompetence in the Nigerian judiciary is too grave to permit the policy of replacement or exclusion. The theory of replacement cannot bring about the best that is in us in the legal profession”, he said.” – Body BoSAN
By Taiye Agbaje
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN), on Thursday, urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to ensure that appointment of justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal are based on merit.
BoSAN, in a speech delivered by Chief Onomigbo Okpoko, SAN, said it was time the NJC do away with the current replacement policy for the appointment of the top judicial officers in the country.
Okpoko spoke in Abuja at a Valedictory Court Service for retired Justice Abdu Aboki, who attained the mandatory retirement age of 70 years in August.
He also advised the NJC to jettison the system whereby justices of the Supreme Court must be promoted from the Court of Appeal.
He said the body is of the view that appointment of justices on the basis of replacement cannot produce the best of lawyers into the appellate courts.
He added that there was no justification to exclude good, competent and available candidates from the Bar from being appointed to the superior courts.
He said, “The policy of geographical spread in public service and in public service appointment is acknowledged today, to be the foundation for the mediocrity and incompetence in some areas of the public service of our nation.
“The risk and dangers of mediocrity and incompetence in the Nigerian judiciary is too grave to permit the policy of replacement or exclusion. The theory of replacement cannot bring about the best that is in us in the legal profession”, he said.
In his speech, the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, said the judiciary has a fundamental duty and obligation to retain the wickedness or harshness of strict law in order to produce justice.
He described the retired Justice Aboki as an enigmatic personality whose name has become a recurring decimal in the annals of the judiciary of this country, ostensibly for his robust scholarly disposition and alluring erudition.
Justice Aboki, in his speech, urged the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council to place greater premium on merit than federal character and other primordial considerations in the selection and appointment of judicial officers.
He added that the failure to accord priority to merit has the effect of demoralising excellent and hard working judicial officers.