The Centre for Public Accountability (CPA) has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the appointment of the Gombe state chief judge.
In its petition, the group said the state judicial commission appointed Mua’zu A Pindiga, the new chief judge, in violation of section 271 subsection 4 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The group said Beatrice Illiya, another judge, was prevented from assuming the position because of her ethnicity and religion.
CPA said according to the state judicial hierarchy, Illiya is the most senior official who ought to step into the office of the chief judge, adding that the nomination of Pindiga deserves to be thrown out by the commission.
In a petition signed by Olufemi Lawson, executive director of the CPA, the group said the appointment of the chief judge should not be left in the hands of politicians.
Lawson said the case of the Gombe state judiciary is an attempt to impose a burden of credibility on the NJC.
“Our organisation has for several months, keenly observed, the unconstitutional decision, of the Gombe state government, to prevent Honorable Justice Beatrice Illiya from assuming the position of the state’s chief judge, in a manner which clearly violates the known conventions and our laws, especially as it is supervised by your noble National Judicial Council (NJC),” the petition read.
“We wish to state unequivocally, that the continued refusal of the Gombe state government to allow Honorable Justice Beatrice Illiya is premised on the major reasons of her religion, gender and her Tangale-Waja ethnic background to be denied life long dream having rose to such a noble height in her carrier.”
The group also accused Inuwa Yahaya, the governor, of attempting to control the judiciary by appointing Pindiga as the number one judicial officer in the state.
CPA noted that it has a strong belief in the commitment of the NJC towards protecting the sanctity of the judiciary and by extension, Nigeria’s democracy.
The group, however, said that it was disturbed by the worrying tendency of some state governments to truncate the seniority hierarchy in the appointment of chief judges.
“The recent cases of Kebbi state involving Honorable Justice Elizabeth Karatu and that of the Cross River state where the governor arbitrarily prevented the appointment of Justice Akon Ikpeme before the intervention of your great commission, are just a few that we wish to remind you,” the petition read.
“We believe that the NJC, will in the present situation stand firmly to be seen as being fair to all, and reject the impression, that it is leaving our women judges, to be vulnerable to political manipulations and machinations of these states executives.”