THE National Judicial Council may on Friday send the names of 11 successful candidates to President Bola Tinubu for appointment into the Supreme, this newspaper gathered on Tuesday.
It also gathered that 22 shortlisted justices were screened on Tuesday at the Committee Room of the NJC in Abuja from 9am to 6pm.
One of our correspondents learnt that the screened justices were divided into priority and reserved candidates.
The priority candidates include Justice Jummai Sankey; Justice Stephen Adah; Justice Mohammed Idris; Justice Abubakar Umar; Justice Chidiebere Uwa; Justice Obande Ogbuinya; Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu; Justice Moore Adumein; and Justice Habeeb Abiru.
The names of the reserved candidates are Justice Muhammad Sirajo; justice
Ridwan Abdullahi; Justice Joseph Ikyegh; Justice Abubakar Talba; Justice Bilkisu Aliyu; Justice Abdullahi Bayero; Justice Onyekachi Otisi; Justice Theresa Orji-Abadua; Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, Justice Biobele Georgewill; and Justice Oyewole Kayode.
The apex court was reduced to 10 justices following the retirement of Musa Dattijo. His retirement came after that of Justice Amina Augie on September 22, 2023, and the death of Justice Chima Nweze on July 31, 2023.
The 10 justices at the Supreme Court fall short of the 21 stipulated by section 230(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
A source at the National Judicial Council, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told one of our correspondents that the names of the shortlisted justices were cleared by the various security agencies, including the Department of State Services, the police, before they were forwarded to the NJC.
The source said the names should be forwarded to the President after the NJC plenary.
“The screening was done yesterday (Tuesday). It started at 9am and lasted till 6pm. The screening of justices was held in the committee room of the NJC. Their names were earlier sent to security agencies for clearance before they came to the NJC.
“The interview committee comprising members of the council is the one conducting the screening for the shortlisted justices. That committee is headed by the second in command, which is Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun.
“The council will meet and the names of successful candidates will be ratified. After the plenary, the names of the ratified justices will be immediately sent to the President. The plenary should be concluded at most in the next two days,” the source explained.
According to the NJC guideline for the appointment of justices to the apex court, the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission/Committee is expected to come up with a provisional shortlist on the merits.
The list is to consist of not less than twice the number of judicial officers intended to be appointed at the particular time and circulate the provisional shortlist together with a request for comments on the suitability or otherwise of any of the shortlisted candidates.
The list is then forwarded to the NJC for its consideration of each of the short-listed candidates.
The candidates who have been shortlisted shall undergo an interview to be conducted by the NJC to ascertain his or her suitability after which the names of the successful candidates are forwarded to the President.