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Plot or not, President Buhari had enough time to confirm Dongban-Mensem as Appeal Court President – Kunle Edun

Following President Muhammadu Buhari decision to extend the appointment of Honourable Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) for another three months, starting from yesterday June 3rd, 2020, some legal experts have questioned the president’s decision to extend her tenure as acting PCA, against appointing her President of the court, when her appointment according to constitutional provisions, should not have exceeded three months.

Questioning this move, a national officer of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Kunle Edun holds the view that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had enough time to conclude all processes that should have led to the confirmation of Justice Dongban-Mensem’s as the substantive President of the Court of Appeal (PCA).

“Why do we have wait for a substantive PCA or even a Chief Judge (CJ) of the high court to retire before we begin the process of appointing a successor? Why can’t the valedictory session or ceremony for an outgoing PCA or CJ be part of the swearing-in of a new head of court (Be it a CJ or a PCA).

“The NJC has a long notice of the retirement date of the president of a court, as well as the Chief Judge. Why then, should the process for their replacement be a long drawn process, so much so that the time of an Acting PCA has to be extended. Why not start early enough to avoid a situation of appointing Acting CJ”, Edun said.

Unfortunately, Edun’s views that there may be other reasons for this extension is shared by many who believe that the presidency may be preparing to appoint Mohammed Lawal Garba as President of the Court of Appeal in place of Dongban-Mensem, who may not be presented to the Senate for confirmation for the substantive position.

It would be recalled that the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) had recommended both Dongban-Mensem and Mohammed Lawal Garba, to the National Judicial Commission (NJC) and to President Buhari for appointment as substantive president of the Court of Appeal to replace Zainab Bulkachuwa, who retired in March 2020.

Dongban-Mensem was sworn in on March 6th to take over from Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as acting president.

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