Nigeria Judiciary: All You Need To Know

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Nigeria Judiciary: All You Need To Know

HON. JUSTICE MAHMUD MOHAMMED, GCON. Chief Justice of Nigeria

The National Judicial Council (NJC) is one of the Federal Executive Bodies created by virtue of Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is the Apex body for the Judiciary. The National Judicial Council was created and vested with enormous powers and functions which the erstwhile Advisory Judicial Committee (AJC) it replaced, did not have.

SET GOALS OF NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL

The Set Goals of the National Judicial Council include:

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  1. An entrenched and preserved independent Judiciary
  2. A judiciary that is committed to the rule of law
  3. A financially autonomous Judiciary
  4. A pro-active and vibrant Judiciary that has Judicial Officers and staff with proven integrity and impeccable character
  5. A dynamic Judiciary manned by officers with various background, discipline, experience and competence
  6. A judiciary that is information technology-driven and equipped with the latest stenographic recording machines

POWERS OF THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL

By the provision of Paragraph 21 of Part One of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended;
The National Judicial Council shall have the power to:

1. 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, the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court, and

the Judicial Service Committee of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, persons for appointment to the Offices of the Chief Judge and Judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the Grand Kadi and Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;

2. recommend to the President the removal from office of the Judicial Officers specified in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers;
3. recommend to the Governors from among the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commissions persons for appointments to the Offices of the Chief Judges of the States and Judges of the High Courts of the States, the Grand Kadis and Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal of the States; and President and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal of the States;
4. recommend to the Governors the removal from office of the Judicial Officers specified in subparagraph (c) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers;
5. collect, control and disburse all money, capital and recurrent, for the judiciary;
6. advise the President and Governors in any matter pertaining to the judiciary as may be referred to the Council by the President, or Governors;
7. appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over Members and staff of the Council;
8. control and disburse all monies, capital and recurrent, for the services of the Council; and
9. deal with all other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration.
10. The Secretary of the Council shall be appointed by the National Judicial Council on the recommendation of the Federal Judicial Service Commission and shall be a Legal Practitioner.”

OTHER FUNCTIONS

Pursuant to its Constitutional powers in Section 158 & Paragraph 21 Sub-paragraph (i) of Part One of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the Council has the following functions and responsibilities:

1. Screening/Interview of Candidates/Judges/Justices for Judicial Appointments
The Council screens/interviews all candidates/Judges/Justices for appointment to all Superior Courts of Record (Customary Court of Appeal, Sharia Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Federal High Court, Court of Appeal & the Supreme Court), in the Federation.
“Screening and interview of all candidates nominated for Judicial appointments to Superior Courts of Record in the Federation is a new guideline to allow for competition among candidates and transparency in the selection mechanism for judicial appointments”.
2. Performance Evaluation Of Judicial Officers Of Superior Courts Of Record In The Federation
The Judges’ Performance Evaluation Committee of the National Judicial Council assesses and evaluates the performances of all Judicial Officers in the Federation based on their quarterly Returns of cases to the Council.
“The Report of the Performance Evaluation of Judicial Officers in Superior Courts of Records in the Federation is used as a yardstick and mechanism to discipline Judges and to determine the actual needs of Courts vis-a-vis appointment of Judges and for budget consideration. The report is also considered by Council when Judicial Officers from Customary Court of Appeal, Sharia Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice, National Industrial Court and Federal High Court are being recommended for appointment to the Court of Appeal and also from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.”
3. Budget
The Council prepares the Capital and Recurrent budget for the Federal Judiciary; and also the Recurrent budget for the State Judicial Offices (High Court of Justice, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal), in respect of their Consolidated Salaries, allowances and overhead cost.
4. Pensions Of Retired Federal Judicial Officers
The National Judicial Council is responsible for payment of gratuities and pensions of all retired Federal Judicial Officers vide the Federal Judicial Officers (Administration of Pension) Act 2007.
5. Due Process on Procurements and Contracts
The Due Process Committee of the National Judicial Council ensures that all Contracts and procurements above a certain threshold in the Federal Judiciary are vetted in compliance with the Procurement Act.
6. Federal Judiciary Tenders Board
The Board awards Contracts that are above the thresholds of Courts and Judicial Bodies in the Federal Judiciary (Procurement Act).
7. Budget Monitoring, Projects & Contracts Evaluation
In line with government policy, as it is done in the other Arms of Government, the Council monitors projects execution and evaluates all contracts awarded in the Federal Judiciary.

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STRUCTURE OF THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL

Office of The Secretary –
The Office is the pivot around which all the activities of the Council revolve. It is the administrative office of the Council. The Office coordinates and supervises all activities of the Council including Council Meetings, disbursement and monitoring of funds. The success or failure of the Departments & Units in the Council depends on the Office. The Office liaises with other Arms of Government and Agencies to achieve the goals of the Council, among others.
Administration Department
The Department has the primary function of dealing with all matters bordering on appointments, promotion and discipline of Staff of the Council. It also liaises with other relevant government agencies on Establishment matters.
Planning, Research and Statistics Department
The Department coordinates and supervises all matters relating to planning policies, programmes and data management. The Department also prepares the Budget of the Federal Judiciary and State Judicial Offices. The Department is also the Secretariat of the Committees on Performance Evaluation of Judicial Officers of Superior Courts of Records, Budget Monitoring and Evaluation, Due Process and Judicial Information Technology Policy (JITPCO).
Finance and Accounts Department
The Department is responsible for processing, collection and disbursement of all monies, Capital and Recurrent, for the Judiciary and also for the service of the Council. The Department is also responsible for rendering Financial Returns to different appropriate government offices.
Audit Department
The Department audits the Account Books of the Council and Superior Courts of Record with respect to funds released to them by the National Judicial Council. It also advises the Council on all audit matters
Information Department
The Department is the chief image-maker of the Council. It is a repository of information for the Council and the Judiciary. It liaises with the media on all judicial matters. It handles all public relations and Protocol matters of the Council.
Judges Performance and Evaluation Department
The Department is responsible for the administration of all secretarial matters relating to quarterly assessment of the performance of Judicial Officers in the Federation vide Returns of Cases submitted. The Department also oversees the Legal Unit of the Council.

Pension Unit
The Unit pays the Pensions of all retired Federal Judicial Officers in line with the Federal Judicial Officers (Administration of Pension) Act, 2007. It is responsible for receipt and remittance of Employer and Employee Contributions for the Federal Judiciary Staff under the Contributory Pension Scheme (Pension Reforms Act 2004).

Procurement Unit
The Unit is responsible for all procurement and contract administration in the Council. The Unit is also the Secretariat of the National Judicial Council Departmental Tenders Board. The Head of the Unit is the Secretary of the Board.

COMPOSITION OF THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL
By the provision of Paragraph 20 of Part One of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended: –
The National Judicial Council shall comprise the following Members: –
• The Chief Justice of Nigeria, who shall be the chairman;
• The next most senior Justice of the Supreme court who shall be the Deputy chairman
• The President of the Court of Appeal;
• Five retired Justices selected by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal;
• The Chief judge of the Federal High Court;
• The President, National Industrial Court;
• Five Chief Judges of State to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among the Chief Judges of the States and of the High Court of the Federal Territory, Abuja in rotation to serve for two years;
• One Grand Kadi to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among Grand Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal to serve in rotation for two years;
• One President of the Customary Court of Appeal to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among the Presidents of the Customary Courts of Appeal to serve in rotation for two years;
• Five members of the Nigerian Bar Association who have been qualified to practice for a period of not less than fifteen years, at least one of whom shall be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to serve for two years and subject to re-appointment: Provided that the five members shall sit in the Council only for the purposes of considering the names of persons for appointment to the superior courts of record; and
• Two-person not being Legal Practitioners, who in the opinion of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, are of unquestionable integrity.

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 CURRENT COUNCIL MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL

     1 HON. JUSTICE MAHMUD MOHAMMED, GCON
Chief Justice of Nigeria
Chairman
2 HON. JUSTICE W. S. NKANU ONNOGHEN, CFR
Justice of the Supreme Court
Deputy Chairman
3 HON. JUSTICE Z. A. BULKACHUWA, CFR
President, Court of Appeal, Abuja
Member
 4 HON. JUSTICE E.O. AYOOLA, CON
Retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Former Chairman, ICPC, Abuja
Member
 5 HON. JUSTICE I. F. OGBUAGBU, CON
Retired Justice of the Supreme Court
Member
 6 HON. JUSTICE S. A. AKINTAN, PhD, CON
Retired Justice of the Supreme Court
Member
 7 HON. JUSTICE UMARU ABDULLAHI, CON
(Walin Hausa) Former President, Court of Appeal
Member
 8 HON. JUSTICE V. A. O. OMAGE, OFR
Retired Justice of Court of Appeal
Member
 9 HON. JUSTICE I. N. AUTA, OFR
Chief Judge, Federal High Court
Member
 10 HON. JUSTICE B. A. ADEJUMO, OFR
President, National Industrial Court of Nigeria
Member
 11 HON. JUSTICE NASIR AJANAH, CON
Chief Judge, High Court of Justice, Kogi State
Member
 12 HON. JUSTICE A. S. DARAMOLA
Chief Judge, High Court of Justice, Ekiti State
Member
 13 HON. JUSTICE HAKILAYALAH HEMAN, CON
Chief Judge, High Court of Justice, Gombe State
Member
 14 HON. JUSTICE A. N. NWANKWO, CON
Chief Judge, High Court of Justice, Ebonyi State
Member
 15 HON. JUSTICE OKOI IKPI ITAM
Chief Judge, High Court of Justice, Cross River State
Member
 16 HON. GRAND KADI MUKHTAR IMAM JEGA
Hon. Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kebbi State
Member
 17 HON. JUSTICE DANIEL A. AYAH
President, Customary Court of Appeal, Bayelsa State
Member
 18 AUGUSTINE ALEGEH, SAN (NBA President)
Benin, Edo State
Member
 19 OKEY WALI, SAN (Former NBA President)
Port-Harcourt, Rivers State
Member
 20 DR. GARBA TETENGI, SAN, mni
Abuja, FCT, (NBA)
Member
 21 MRS. PATRICIA IGWEBUIKE, Esq.
Enugu, Enugu State, (NBA)
Member
 22 MR. TIJJANI INUWA-DUTSE, mni, MNIM
Dutse, Jigawa State (NBA)
Member
 23 MRS. R. S. IBRAHIM, MON
Kano, Kano State
Member
 24 MRS. R. I. INGA
Makurdi, Benue State
Member
 25 DANLADI UMAR HALILU, ESQ, OON
National Judicial Council, Supreme Court Complex, Abuja
Secretary

 

CURRENT MANAGEMENT STAFF OF THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL

1 Danladi Halilu, Esq, OON, LLB (Hons) ABU, BL, LLM (Unijos) Secretary to the Council
2 Mr Eugene Ikechukwu Odukwu, B.A. (Hons) Ife, M. A. (Ibadan) Director, Administration Department
3 Alhaji Muhtari Abubakar Tambawel, B.Sc (Hons), BUK, M.Sc (East Anglia) Director, Planning, Research and Statistics Department
4 Mrs Georgina Obioma Obingene, B.Sc (Hons) MBA, UNN, ACA. Director, Finance and Accounts Department
5 Director PRS Oversees this Department Judges Performance and Evaluation Department
6 Mallam Hamza Yakubu, B.Sc (Acct), CNA, is an Assistant Director and the Head of the Department Audit Department
7 Adesoji O. Oye, Esq, B.A. (Hons) OSUA, LLB (Hons), Uni Abuja, B.L, MNIPR; is an Acting Director and Head of the Department Information Department
8 Alhaji Ramalan Shehu Ma’aji, HND, (Acct.), CNA, is an Acting Director of Finance and Head of the Unit Pension Unit
9 Deji Owodolu, B.Sc (Acct) Abuja, CNA is a senior Accountant and the Head of the Unit Procurement Unit

 

 THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

COURT OF APPEAL

FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA

NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA

FCT AND STATE COURTS

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