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NJC Demands Immediate Financial Autonomy For State Judiciary

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The National Judicial Council (NJC), yesterday, demanded the immediate implementation of the financial autonomy of state judiciary.

It commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his unequivocal position on financial autonomy for state judiciary and charged state governors to as a matter of urgency, begin its immediate implementation.

This, according to the council, was not only in line with the constitutional dictates, but at present, the judicial position.

The NJC also recommended to President Buhari, the appointment of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad as substantive CJN.  If the president accepts the proposal, he will send the acting CJN’s name for screening and confirmation by the Senate.

Similarly, the council recommended the appointment of six judges as chief judges of their respective states, while two Khadi were tipped as grand khadis for the Sharia Court of Appeal in Kano and Jigawa States.

The NJC took the decisions during its emergency meeting in Abuja.

The meeting, which was initially presided over by Justice Umaru Abdullahi (rtd) , considered and approved the recommendations of its Interview Committee which screened the acting CJN and Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour for the position.

The Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) had presented Muhammad and Rhodes-Vivour to the NJC for screening.

Subsequently, the plenary of the council presided over by Justice Muhammad recommended to the governors of Sokoto, Lagos, Anambra, Ebonyi, Niger, Taraba, Kano, and Jigawa States, eight successful candidates for appointment as chief judges and grand kadis for the states.

The NJC recommended Justice Muhammad S. Sifawa as the chief judge of Sokoto State High Court; Justice Kazeem O. Alogba for Lagos State High Court; Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu as chief judge of the Anambra State High Court, and Justice Nwaigwe A. Anselm for the Ebonyi State High Court.

Others were Justice Aliyu M. Mayaki as chief judge of Niger State High Court, Justice Filibus B. Andetur for Taraba state High Court.

For the position of grand khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal in Kano State, the NJC recommend Khadi Tijjani Yusuf Yakasai and Khadi Isa Jibrin Gantsa as the grand khadi, Sharia Court of Appeal in Jigawa State.

These were contained in a statement signed by NJC’s director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye.

Justice Muhammad will be sworn-in upon approval of the president and confirmation by the Senate while other heads of court will be sworn-in after approval by the governors and Houses of Assembly in their respective states.

Oye said: “The newly appointed heads of court will be sworn-in after the approval of the president and their respective state governors and confirmation by the Senate and state Houses of Assembly as the case may be.”

The council also considered notification of retirements of the chief judge of the Federal High Court, chief judges of Gombe, Edo, Niger, Ebonyi, acting chief judge of Kebbi State as well as those of nine judicial officers from the Federal High Court, High Courts of Gombe, Delta, Edo, Imo, Benue and Katsina States.

Following the suspension of the immediate past CJN, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen,  on the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Buhari on January 25, 2019 appointed Muhammad as acting CJN.

Until his appointment, Muhammed was a justice of the Supreme Court since 2006.

Prior to 2006, Muhammad served as a justice of the Court of Appeal from 1993 to 2006. He was a khadi (judge) at the Sharia Court of Appeal in Bauchi State from 1991 to 1993.

Justice Muhammad was also a provost of the College of Islamic and Legal Studies, Bauchi State from 1986 to 1989.

Born on December 31, 1953, Justice Muhammad is a Law graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and also bagged his MSc and PhD from the same school.

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