An appeal has been filed against the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Hon. Justice O.E Abang dismissing the suit challenging the appointment of some FCT High Court Judges by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is through a Notice of Appeal dated 23rd day of November, 2020 filed by JRP Foundation Ltd/Gte which was made available to ASKLEGALPALACE.
It was noted that the “Learned Trial Judge misdirected himself in law when he misconstrued the relief as a labour related claim”, adding that the relief before him “relates to the interpretation of the Constitution, principally, section 153(1) and paragraph 21 of part 1 of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
In addition, the Appellant argued that the Judge “erred in Law when he held that the recommendation of the 5th-25th Respondents to the 1st Respondent by the 2nd Respondent for appointment as Judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory is an employment-related matter and by virtue of section 254(c)(1A) and (1D) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) as amended, only the National Industrial Court has jurisdiction to entertain the appellant’s suit”.
Also, the Appellant noted that the “5th-25th Respondents having only been shortlisted and proposed for appointment do not qualify as employees subject to the jurisdiction of Industrial Court”.
In addition, the Appellant alleged that the Learned Trial Judge denied it fair hearing “by isolating and determining only the issue of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court”.
Furthermore, it was stated that the Judge was wrong to have declared that the Appellant lacks the locus standi to institute the action, noting that it “has an interest beyond a private person or ordinary member of the public” and that it requires no consent of the Attorney General of the Federation to file the action.
Besides, the Appellant contends that the Learned Judge “erred in Law when he declined to have proceedings conducted virtually”, noting that he ignored the Federal High Court Practice Direction for conducting hearing during the COVID-19 period.
Also, it was added that contrary to what the Judge did, “preliminary objection to jurisdiction is not a bar to conducting proceedings virtually” and that “application to hear the matter virtually, by its nature, takes priority over any other application”.
Consequently, the Appellants seeks an order setting aside the decision of the trial Judge and to invoke its general powers under Section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act Cap C36, LFN 2004 to grant all the declarations being sought.
ASKLEGALPALACE recalls that the Appellant had earlier approached the Federal High Court which dismissed the suit it filed, urging it to set aside the recommendation of the National Judicial Council to the President on the appointment of Judges of the FCT High Court on the alleged ground that the nominees failed to meet the criteria and satisfy the extant guidelines on the appointment of Judicial Officers in Nigeria.
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