THERE was mild drama at the Supreme Court, Abuja, on Monday, as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Tanko Muhammad ordered Olasunbo Goodluck, one of the 18 newly sworn-in justices of the Court of Appeal, to retake her oath of office after she said “So help me Allah” when she was supposed to say “So help me God.”
As the judge walked away from the microphone, the CJN ordered her to return to the podium and say “So help me God.”
The inauguration was earlier scheduled to take place in April but had to be postponed due to the nationwide strike embarked on by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
The industrial action, through which JUSUN pressed for financial autonomy of the judiciary, commenced on April 6 and went on to ground Nigerian courts and related institutions for over two months.
President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of the judges following their recommendation by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The 18 appeal court justices that were sworn in on Monday were: Mohammed Danjuma (Niger State), Muhammad Ibrahim Sirajo (Plateau), Abdul-Azeez Waziri (Adamawa), Yusuf A. Bashir (Taraba), Usman A. Musale (Yobe), Ibrahim Wakili Jauro (Yobe), Abba Bello Mohammed (Kano State), Bature Isah Gafai (Katsina), and Danlami Zama Senchi (Kebbi).
Others were: Mohammed Lawal Abubakar (Sokoto), Hassan Muslim Sule (Zamfara), Kenneth Ikechukwu Amadi (Imo), Peter Oyinkenimiemi Affen (Bayelsa), Sybil Onyeji Gbagi (Delta), Olasunbo Goodluck (Lagos), Adebukola Banjoko (Ogun), Olabode Adegbehingbe (Ondo), and Bola Samuel Ademola (Ondo).
Eleven of the 18 new justices of the court of appeal are from northern states.
An Abuja Federal High Court had, on Friday, struck out a suit demanding three slots for the South-East region in the appointment of the 18 judges.
The plaintiffs, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), had argued that the South-East was marginalised in the appointment process.
Alaigbo had prayed the court to order that the South-East be given three slots as the region’s fair share.
Delivering judgement in the suit, however, Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, ruled that the group lacked the locus standi to institute such suit.
Ekwo noted that Alaigbo, in filing the suit, acted in breach of the provisions of the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.
He explained that instituting such a suit was outside the scope of the group’s registration under CAMA.
“The plaintiff lacks the requisite locus standi (legal right) to institute this suit against the defendants.
“If the plaintiff is now telling this court that it is by virtue of its registration under section 833 (1) of CAMA that it is engaging in this suit, then its registration was a camouflage, and ought to be revoked,” the judge declared.