The National Judicial Council has stopped the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello from proceeding with the appointment of his wife, Barrister Amina Bello and some of his family and friends as Judges and Kadis in the State.
This was made known in a press statement issued by Ahmed Gambo Saleh, Esq, NJC Secretary, in response to a petition filed before the body by a league of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) from Kogi East informing NJC about Governor Bello’s act of nepotism in appointing the Judges and Kadis.
According to the statement, the NJC has stopped the appointment process pending the determination of a lawsuit on the same matter.
The statement reads: “I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 10 January, 2024 on the above subject matter and to inform you that the National Judicial Council being the apex body in the Judiciary understands that respecting the authority of the court is not only a legal obligation but also a fundamental aspect of maintaining a fair and just legal system. As such, the NJC has always been in the forefront of advocating for respect to the rule of law.
“Thus, I wish to inform you that once a suit is instituted against any appointment process, Council do put on hold the process, pending the determination of the matter. Consequently, the NJC has put on hold the process of appointment of Judges and Kadis for the Kogi State Judiciary.”
It was learnt that some of the appointees are Governor Bello’s wife, Amina and some of his nephews and family friends.
Recall how no fewer than 17 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) include, Chief Yunus Ustaz Usman and J.S Okutepa. Others are Patrick Okolo, Abdullahi Haruna, Reuben Atabo, Shaibu Aruwa and Johnson Usman from the State called for the suspension of appointments of new Judges into the State Judiciary until certain criteria were met.
This was contained in a letter to the Chief Judge and Chairman of Kogi State Judicial Service Commission, Justice Josiah Majebi, which was dated October 20, 2023.
Our correspondent gathered that about 80 of the shortlisted candidates for appointment to the 10 vacant positions for Judges and Kadis were from Ebira, Governor Bello’s clan.
A source told our correspondent that among the shortlisted candidates was Governor Bello’s wife, Amina Yahaya Bello, Esq listed as number four.
The three shortlisted candidates for customary court of appeal, the source said were all from Governor Bello’s tribe, Ebira, a development that caused ripples in the State.
Titled “RE: Provisional Short-list Of Candidates Of Ten Judicial Officers Of The High Court Of Justice Shariah Court Of Appeal And Customary Court Of Appeal,” the indigenous Kogi SANs stated that appointment of Judges to superior courts of record was regulated and required provision of basic facilities such as availability of courtrooms/Judges chambers, official cars, residential accommodation as well as equipped library in Judges’ chambers, citing Rules 1-5 of National Judicial Council Revised Guidelines.
In the 12-point issues raised in the letter signed by Yunus Ustaz Usman, Life Bencher for himself and on behalf of 16 other Senior Advocates, the legal luminaries also pointed out that the proposed candidates listed for appointments of judges did not reflect the geographical spread. They noted that the list was lopsided to the disadvantage of other parts of the State.
According to the letter, the candidates listed for customary Court of Appeal were all from Kogi Central and there was no candidate from Kogi East or Kogi West, noting that there were qualified persons from Kogi East and Kogi West that were not selected.
Shortlisted candidates for the Bench:
The list contains the names of the shortlisted candidates for appointment to the 10 (Ten) vacant positions for Judges and Kadis.
HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
1) Badiru Abdulghaniy, Esq.
2) Ezema Beatrice Ada, Esq.
3) Ibrahim Idenyi
4) Amina Yahaya Bello, Esq.
5) Joseph Sunday Ajesola Esq.
6) Dr Mohammed Tanko Esq.
7) Badama Kadiri, Esq.
8) Umaru Medina, Esq.
9) Ibrahim Jubril, Oladimeji, Esq.
10) Ojoma Rachael Haruna, Esq.
11) Zakari Wahab
12) Halimat Onuka
SHARIA COURT OF APPEAL
1) Idris Alhaji Abdullahi, Esq.
2) Abdulwasiu Oladele Salaudeen
3) Muhammad Muhammad Bello, Esq.
4) Mohammed Usman, Agaba, Esq.
5) Okino Isah Saidu, Esq.
6) Abdulaziz Muhammad Abdulmali
7) Ganiyu Adeku, Esq.
8) Yakubu Adavenge Abbas
9) Hassan Hussaini
10) Musa Muhammad Jibreel
11) Hussaini Zakariya Labaran, Esq.
12) Salihu Abdullahi
13) Idrees Usman Abdullahi
14) Shaibu Ridwan Aliyu
CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL:
1) Musa Onogo Idris, Esq.
2) Maryann Oziohu, Esq.
3) Shaibu Ozovehe Ebenezer, Esq.