Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
The controversy surrounding the non swearing in of an appointed female Court of Appeal Justice on the ground of her state of origin was on Wednesday laid to rest by the National Judicial Council after an emergency meeting held over the matter in Abuja.
In a press statement made available to journalists after the meeting, the Council’s Deputy Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, the Council noted that the matter of the appointment and swearing-in of Justice Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal, has generated so much controversy in Nigeria and that the Senate had, without any consultation with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is also the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, proceeded to pass a Resolution on 7th of November, 2012, directing the CJN to swear-in Justice Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.
The senate had also urged all government employing agencies to note, in terms of employment, that a married woman shall lay claims to her state of origin and that of her husband in relation to the Federal Character regulations and pointed out that the binding principles and formulae for the distribution of all cadres of posts (S.I.23 of 1997) provides in Part II, Section 2, that a married woman shall continue to lay claim to her state of origin for the purpose of implementation of the Federal Character formulae at the National level.
The NJC further noted that the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council, being Federal Executive Bodies established in pursuance of Section 153(1(i) of the 1999 Constitution are bound and obliged to observe and obey the provisions of the Constitutional Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Federal Character Commission.
On that note, the Council unanimously decided that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo be sworn-in as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.
The CJN had on the 5th November, written President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to inform him that the matter of the non swearing in of Justice Jombo-Ofo, would be tabled before the NJC at today’s emergency meeting.
The Council also commended the CJN for exercising sufficient caution, diligence and maturity in the matter, especially in the light of the documents, materials and other information available to her, and for taking the decision to put on hold the swearing-in of Justice Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal, to await today’s emergency meeting of the Council which reviewed the matter in all its ramifications.