The National Judicial Council has said the elevation of 14 judges to the Court of Appeal was not lopsided as alleged by some media reports.
The NJC in statement on Tuesday faulted insinuations that none of the judges shortlisted for appointment to the Court of Appeal was from the South-East..
It described the allegation as “a figment of the imagination” of the concerned media “as the exercise is on-going and no candidate has been recommended so far”.
The statement signed by NJC’s director of information, Mr. Soji Oye, further read: “To put the records straight, appointment of Judicial Officers to the Court of Appeal is done on merit and geographical spread.
“Section 2 of Court of Appeal (Amendment) Act, 2013, governing the appointment of Justices of Court of Appeal provides that the total number of Justices to be appointed should not be more than 90 plus the President. The Court however, currently has 76 Justices leaving vacancy for additional 14 Justices.
“Of the 76 Justices of the Court, the North Central with 6 States and FCT has 12 Justices; North-East with 6 States has 12 Justices plus the President; North-West with 7 States has 9 Justices; South-East with 5 States has 13 Justices; South-South with 6 States has 14 Justices and South-West with 6 States has 15 Justices.
“In considering appointment for the 14 vacancies, and to ensure that each zone is adequately presented, all States that have 3 serving Justices were not considered unless under special circumstances.”
The statement revealed that the states not considered include Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara and Oyo.
It further noted: “States like Adamawa, Kebbi and Sokoto have zero representation which informed the need to include them in the current exercise.
“Appointments are made to the Court based on the elevation of Appeal Court Justices to the Supreme Court, retirement at the age of 70 years, or death. Such vacancies are filled with Judicial Officers from the Zone of the Judge who died, retired or elevated.
“It is therefore unfair for the media to claim that the National Judicial Council recommended no Candidate from the South-East which currently has 13 Justices at the Court of Appeal.”