Mr Olisa Agbakoba, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, has made a harsh critique of Nigeria’s Supreme Court calling it “the worst I have seen in my 45 years of practice” and accusing it of harbouring a “mafia” that blocks qualified individuals from becoming justices.
Agbakoba made these remarks during a colloquium in Abuja celebrating the 61st birthday of Senate President Godswill Akpabio, an event attended by President Bola Tinubu and other high-ranking officials.
He recounted his experience applying to be a Supreme Court justice alongside Wole Olanipekun, only to be “thrown out” by the alleged mafia within the court.
He attributed their rejection to the mixture of “administration of justice,” which he believes should be independent of the legislature, with “judicial administration,” which he considers subject to legislative oversight.
Agbakoba argued that the current lack of a clear legal framework for appointing senior judges, leaving the process solely in the hands of the National Judicial Council and Supreme Court justices, creates an environment ripe for nepotism and cronyism.
He called for a law by the National Assembly to establish transparent and objective criteria for judicial appointments.
“I was the first, accompanied by my brother, Wole Olanipekun, who applied because we thought we were qualified to sit at the Supreme Court. The mafia there threw us out.
Do you know why? We still mix the administration of justice, which the national assembly cannot with respect interfere, with judicial administration, which the national assembly can make law.
“There should be a law governing the appointment process of senior judges; we can’t leave it to the National Judicial Council; all the constitution says that once you are 15 years, you are qualified.
But the National Judicial Council and Supreme Court judges have formed a mafia, and we don’t get there. With the greatest respect, this is the worst Supreme Court I have seen in my 45 years of practice,” the respected lawyer said.
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