By; JOSHUA I. EGBODO, Abuja
The House of Representatives has taken steps towards ensuring that the power to appoint chairman and members of gubernatorial, National and State Houses of Assembly election tribunals in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to rest with the Chief Justice of the Nigeria(CJN), and the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The statusquo has been such appointments can on.y be done by the President, Court of Appeal as contained in section 1(3) of the Sixth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
A Bill jointly sponsored by Hon. James Faleke and Hon. Sunday Karimi seeking to alter the section by taking the power off the Court of Appeal President to the CJN and the NJC, however scaled second reading on the floor of the House yesterday.
Faleke argued that “the objective is to first and foremost contribute to the ongoing judicial and electoral reforms in the country, and secondly, create a system of check and balance on the process of appointing these judicial officers.
“As it is now, the authority to appoint the judges for the tribunals as well as the appellate tribunals rests squarely on the President of the Court of Appeal in consultation with the Chief Judge of the state, the Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the state or the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of the state, depending on the state where the said tribunal members are to be appointed from”.
Speaking further, he said by amending the said section, “it is believed that if where the CJN and NJC select the members of the tribunal of first jurisdiction from where contending issues go from onto appeals which in this case would be the responsibility of the President of the Court of Appeal, the actions and activity of the lower tribunal would be seen to be more objective and meritorious”.
The proposed legislation which was adopted for second reading by members has been referred to the special Ad hoc committee for the review of the 1999 Constitution of the House, by Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara for further legislative action.