Barring any last-minute hitches, the Secretary of Nigeria’s Body of Benchers, Hajia Sadiya Turaki will tomorrow assume duties as the new scribe of the influential Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

Multiple and unimpeachable sources told CITY LAWYER that Turaki has been appointed by the commission chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad as the new Secretary to replace Mr. Bassey E. Bassey who retired on September 23, 2020.

Turaki’s appointment is coming on the heels of allegations that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) may have been shut out of the appointment process, contrary to the provisions of Section 153(2) and 154(1) of the 1999 Constitution as well as Paragraph 12 Part 1 of the Third Schedule to 1999 Constitution. 

While Paragraph 12 (6) Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution stipulates that the membership composition of the FJSC shall include “Two persons, each of whom has been qualified to practice as a Legal Practitioner in Nigeria for a period of not less than fifteen years, from a list of not less than four persons so qualified and recommended by the Nigerian Bar Association,” CITY LAWYER gathered from impeccable sources that NBA has not participated in the decision-making process of the commission for over two years since the tenure of its former representatives ended.

Paragraph 13(c), Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution empowers the commission to “Appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over the Chief Registrars and Deputy Chief Registrars of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and all other members of the staff of the Judicial Service of the Federation not otherwise specified in this Constitution and of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.”

CITY LAWYER investigation shows that the last set of NBA representatives at the commission were Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro SAN and Hajia Fatima Kwaku (MFR) whose names were forwarded by then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar to former President Goodluck Jonathan for transmission to the Senate for confirmation. Their five-year tenure ended on 3rd July, 2018.

A source who is familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that though the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN made spirited efforts to ensure NBA’s representation at the commission, such efforts did not yield fruits. The source stated that though Usoro had on at least three occasions submitted the list of NBA nominees to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, there are strong indications that the list was not transmitted to the Senate through the President for approval. CITY LAWYER also gathered from unimpeachable sources that the names of two NBA nominees are still currently pending at the all-important commission.

Though CITY LAWYER sought the views of NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata on the development through a short messaging service and WhatsApp message to his verified telephone number, he promised that “I will call you back shortly” but was yet to do so at press time. 

Aside from NBA representatives, the commission’s membership comprises of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who shall be the Chairman; President of the Court of Appeal; Attorney-General of the Federation; Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; President of the National Industrial Court, and “Two other persons, not being Legal Practitioners, who in the opinion of the President are of unquestionable integrity.” The non-lawyers are Senator Abba Ali and Malam Mohammed Sagir. However, only NBA is currently unrepresented in the 9-member commission.

The commission’s Secretary doubles as its Chief Executive and Accounting Officer.

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