Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari acted in contravention of the law when he sent the names of 11 candidates recommended to him by the National Judicial Council for appointment as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, to the Senate for screening and confirmation.
The Justice made the pronouncement in a suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Oladimeji Ekengba, contending that the forwarding of the names of the 11 nominees by Buhari to the Senate was in breach of section 256(2) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Buhari had, without explanation, picked 11 names from among the 33 recommended to him in April this year by the NJC for appointment as FCT High Court judges.
He forwarded the 11 names to the Senate for screening, but the upper legislative chamber had declined to act on the President’s list having admitted that it had no role to play in the appointment of FCT judges.
The 11 judges have since been sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
Aside from faulting the sending of the names of 11 of the candidates to the Senate, Ekengba, in his suit, also contended that the President lacked the power to pick and choose whom among the candidates to appoint as judges recommended by the NJC.
He sought among other prayers, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Senate from screening and confirming the candidates as judges of the FCT High Court.
Giving the judgment on Wednesday, Justice Inyag Ekwo agreed with the plaintiff that Buhari acted in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution by forwarding the 11 names to the Senate.