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NJC meets to appoint new CJN Thursday

By The Citizen
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The National Judicial Council will meet on Thursday to deliberate on the appointment of a new Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The incumbent, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, who is the first female and the 13th indigenous CJN, will retire on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70 on November 20.

Barring any last minute change, Mukhtar is likely to be succeeded by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who is currently the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court.

Our correspondent learnt on Sunday that in fulfilment of constitutional provisions on the appointment of the CJN, the Federal Judicial Service Commission had met on October 23 and submitted a list of the next three most senior Justices of the Supreme Court to the NJC.

The NJC is expected to meet on Thursday to recommend one of those on the list to President Goodluck Jonathan.

Top on the FJSC's recommended list is Justice Mohammed, who is currently the Deputy Chairman of the NJC. The CJN is the Chairman of both the NJC and the FJSC.

Others on the list are said to be two other Justices of the Supreme Court in order of seniority, Justices Walter Onnoghen and Tanko Muhammad.

Usually, the most senior among those recommended by the FJSC, and who is next to the outgoing CJN is appointed the new Chief Justice by the President.

The President's choice often requires approval by the Senate in line with section 231(1) of the Constitution.

A source at the FJSC, who is familiar with the processes of appointing the nation's CJN, confirmed the development to our correspondent on Sunday.

'By sending additional two names to accompany the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court is just to fulfil all righteousness. It is almost certain that the NJC at its meeting on Thursday will recommend Justice Mohammed to the President and the President will then appoint him   as the next CJN,' the source said.

Paragraph 21(a) and (a) (i) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guides the appointment of the CJN, Justices/judges and heads of various federal courts, says, 'The National Judicial Council shall have power to:

'Recommend to the President from among the list of persons submitted to it by - the Federal Judicial Service Commission, persons for appointment to the offices of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge and judges of the Federal High Court.'

The outgoing CJN Mukhtar, who succeeded Justice Dahiru Musdapher, on July 16, 2012, is reputed to have taken decisive actions against corruption on the bench and unethical practices in the judiciary.