— Says, Its not ruling out possible litigation to compel reversal
A Non-Governmental Organization under the aegis, Johnbosco Human Rights Foundation, has faulted the transfer of Hon. Justice A.O Faji, to the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, by its Chief Judge.
Recall that the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho in a circular dated 16th day of March, 2021, reshuffled FHC judges across the 36 divisions in the country.
The NGO faulted the posting of the Learned Judge via a letter sighted by ASKLEGALPALACE titled ‘POSTING OF THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE A.O. FAJI TO THE LAGOS DIVISION OF THE COURT: A WRONGFUL EXERCISE OF DISCRETION AND THE COMPELLING NEED TO REVERSE SAME’.
The said letter which was addressed to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court noted that the transfer of the Hon. Justice A O. Faji to the Lagos Division of the court, which incidentally happens to be located in Lagos State, the very home state of the Honourable Judges had the ability to undermine the confidence that would be reposed in the court, given the large propensity to be biased to one’s immediate environs.
Also the NGO considered that, the Hon. Justice Nyako [who is the second most senior Judge of the Court] and not the Hon. Justice A.O. Faji should be in a better position to serve as administrative judge of the Lagos division, in line with laid down tradition of the court.
The letter reads “Our concerns are of two-fold. First, having perused in-depth the said posting, it is our view that the posting of the Honourable Justice A.O. FAJI to the Lagos Division of the Court is a wrongful exercise of discretion that needs to be corrected without much hesitation on the grounds we would now proceed to point out.
Firstly, the Honourable Justice A.O. Faji from Lagos State of Nigeria and practiced extensively in Lagos before his elevation to the Federal High Court Bench on the 12th day of September, 2002. While we recognise that the Federal High Court of Nigeria has the whole country as its territorial jurisdiction, it is also to be borne in mind that Your Lordship, in posting Judges of the Honourable Court, is to take deliberate steps in seeing that none is posted to his state of origin for reasons that are rather too obvious to mention.
“It is common knowledge that a Judge is more exposed to corrupt influences, bias and prejudices when presiding within his immediate locality given the long-standing ties he may have built over the years during his practice with the people of that particular community. To bring the lesson closer, Your Lordship would recall that you have never been posted, by any of Your predecessors in office, to serve at the Makurdi Division of the Federal High Court which is your home state. Justice, it is said, is rooted in confidence.
“The power of our Courts is principally founded on the confidence of the public in the Court as constituted at any time. The likely entanglements of My Lord Justice A.O. Faji with the people of Lagos State who are potential litigants in that jurisdiction makes it imperative that he is posted out of Lagos Division without much ado. This will spare him otherwise avoidable pressure in the discharge of the functions of his office.
“Our second observation is that a Division of this Court such as Lagos (considered to be the busiest) ought to be administered by a very senior Judge of this Court. For instance, as the number two in seniority, Your Lordship was the Administrative Judge of Lagos Division prior to your posting to the Headquarters Abuja. In this regard, it is expected that the Honourable Justice B.F.M. Nyako, for instance, ought to be posted to take charge of Lagos Division, given her vast experience and seniority.
The NGO however noted that whilst it seeks an amicable understanding with the Chief Judge, and hope for a reversal of the decision, it would not fail to explore its legal options, including litigation, if the decision is not reversed.
“However, in the unlikely event that Your Lordship ignores this very helpful suggestions, we might consider it a duty on us to seek appropriate remedies in the Court especially with a view to ensuring that the Honourable Justice A.O. Faji is removed from the Lagos Division of the Court in promotion of the highest ideals of natural justice and protection of the confidence the common man reposes on our Courts.
“This option we are resolved to initiate, if after seventy-two hours (72) hours from the service of this letter on Your Office and you fail, neglect and or refuse to act accordingly,” the letter stated.
The cardinal objectives of Johnbosco Human Rights Foundation, among others are: promoting and defending the ideals of democracy, promoting human rights in Nigeria and promoting and defending the ideals of Rule of Law.
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