November 22, 2012
Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo is set for the Court of Appeal, with the National Judicial council (NJC) agreeing to allow her take the oath.
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mariam Aloma-Mukhtar declined to swear her in alongside 11 justices approved by President Goodluck Jonathan for elevation to the Court of Appeal.
The CJN did not swear her in because she is not an indigene of Abia State that recommended her elevation, even though her husband is from Abia and she has been serving there for many years.
Rising from an emergency meeting yesterday in Abuja, the NJC unanimously agreed to swear her in as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.
A statement by, spokesman of the council, Mr. Soji Oye, said the CJN deserved commendation and not vilification, for exercising sufficient caution, diligence and maturity in the way she handled matter.
It noted the controversy the issue had generated.
The NJC recalled that the CJN, in a November 5 letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, informed him of the facts surrounding the elevation of Justice Jombo-Ofo.
It also recalled that the Senate, without any consultation with the CJN, passed a Resolution on November 7 to the following effect:-
(a) That the Senate urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria to swear in Honourable Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal; and
(b) That the Senate urged all Government Employing Agencies to note in terms of employing a married woman, shall lay claims to her state of origin and that of her husband in relation to the Federal Character Regulations.
The statement notes 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”.
“That the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council had by a letter dated 5th November, 2012, duly written to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to inform His Excellency that the matter of Honourable Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo and the fact that she was not sworn in on the 5th of November, 2012 would be tabled before the National Judicial Council.
“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 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 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 Act.
“ That the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is also bound and obliged to observe and obey the stipulations of the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Federal Character Commission Act; without prejudice to the undisputed power of the National Assembly to amend and\or repeal the said Act.
“That the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council must be commended 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 Honourable justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal, to await a Meeting of the National Judicial Council to review the matter in all its ramifications.
“And after full and dispassionate deliberations on the matter, the council unanimously decided that Honourable Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo be sworn-in as a Justice of the Court of Appeal”.
Called to the Nigerian Bar in 1979, Justice Jombo-Ofo was appointed a High Court judge on November 4, 1998.