After about three years without a substantive President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday finally announced the appointment of Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as the next president of the court.
With her appointment, two women would effectively be in charge of the two major appellate courts in the country – the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, was appointed by the president in July 2012.
The president, in a letter addressed to Senate President David Mark and read by his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said Bulkachuwa’s appointment was in compliance with Section 238 (1) of the 1999 Constitution and appealed to the upper legislative chamber to expeditiously confirm the appointment.
Yesterday’s session was presided over by Ekweremadu following Mark’s trip to Geneva where he’s participating in the ongoing 130th session of Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).
According to the letter, Jonathan said Bulkachuwa’s appointment was in accordance with the recommendation of National Judicial Council (NJC).
The letter read: “In conformity with Section 238, sub-section 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, which gives the president the powers to appoint a President of the Court of Appeal acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council and subject to confirmation by the Senate, I hereby present the nomination of Hon. Justice Zainab A. Bulkachuwa as President of the Court of Appeal.
“It is my hope that this request will receive the usual expeditious consideration and approval of the distinguished members of the Senate. Please accept, Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
The appellate court had since August 18, 2011, been without a substantive head following the suspension of the then president, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, by the NJC after a crisis of confidence had ensued between him and the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.
Salami had alleged that Katsina-Alu asked him to compromise the judgment of an appeal tribunal on the election dispute between the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Governor Aliyu Wamakko and Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) candidate, Ibrahim Dingyadi, during the 2007 governorship election.
Salami had made the allegation in protest against moves by Katsina-Alu to elevate him to the Supreme Court against his wish.
His suspension by NJC followed his refusal to apologise to Katsina-Alu after an investigation into his allegation against the latter absolved the former CJN of any wrong doing in the Sokoto governorship dispute.
Following the recommendation for Salami’s suspension to Jonathan by the NJC, the president on August 22, 2011, appointed Justice Dalhatu Adamu as acting PCA for a period of six months.
Jonathan again re-appointed Adamu as acting PCA after his initial six-month term expired despite the re-appointment being declared illegal by NJC.
The president also failed to approve a subsequent recommendation by NJC under the leadership of incumbent CJN for Salami’s recall on the grounds that the matter of his suspension was already subjudice. As a result, Salami remained suspended until his retirement last October.
However, after Adamu’s retirement, Jonathan on November 22, 2012 appointed Bulkachuwa as acting PCA, a position she’s held until her nomination for confirmation as substantive PCA on March 13.
Also yesterday, Jonathan announced the re-appointment of Mr. Shettima Gana (Borno) as a member, Revenue Mobilsation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and urged the Senate to confirm his nomination with dispatch.