Opinion

Unfair protests on the appointment of new judges

By Ifeanyi Opara

The media space has recently been suffused with disingenuous blackmail by a coterie of lawyers over the list of recently appointed judges by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The main grouse of these protesters, is the inclusion of some children or relations of some serving or retired judges, in the list of new judges.

Some of us find this blackmail disingenuous and distatestful. In any society, it is the wish of parents for their children to surpass them in their various professions and accomplishments. Reason we find a couple of military and police officers whose children are also in the Force.

And in the legal profession, it is the wish of many lawyers and judges for their children to surpass their accomplishments.

Interestingly, the gravamen of the rationale of these protests has nothing to do with the qualifications of some of these elevated persons. Their sins are anchored on their consanguinity – being children of serving or retired judges. That is their mortal sin. Why should a child be punished for aspiring to be on the higher Bench, just because his or her parents are either serving or retired judges? Nothing could be more patently unfair.

However, l think it is apposite to remind these protesters of these real-life scenarios.
Hon. Justice B. A. Candide-Johnson of the Lagos Judiciary is a son of a former Chief Judge of Lagos, Ademola Candide-Johnson.

Also in Lagos, Justice Ayotunde Philips retired as Chief Judge of Lagos and handed over to her younger sister, Justice Funmilayo Atilade, who succeeded her as the Chief Judge. There was no hoopla and any scintilla of protests.

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The first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria, was Sir Adetokunbo Ademola. His son, Justice Adenekan Ademola was once the presiding Justice of the Lagos division of court of Appeal till he retired. His grandson, Adeniyi Ademola retired as a Judge of the Federal high court. The list is endless.

Even in other jurisdictions, there is Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, a Justice of the Supreme Court of India. He is the son of late Y. V. Chandrachud, a former Chief Justice of India. Also, there is Justice K. M. Joseph, also a Justice of the Supreme Court of India, a son of late Justice K. K. Matthew of the Supreme Court of India.

Funny enough, these protesters who are frothing that two children of a former Chief Justice, Idris Kutigi are already on the Bench, wondering why another child has been elevated. So, when has elevation to the Bench been a matter of family quota? Why short-circuit the career path of certain individuals just because of their fillial relationships? There are many lawyers who never find the Bench attractive. So, if you find those who see such career path attractive, why rupture their career advancement when they are qualified? Very unfair.

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