Okey Wali, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, on Monday charged stakeholders on the need for the NBA to be involved in the appointment of judicial officers.
Wali said this in Abuja while speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day NBA conference on judicial reforms.
The conference has as its theme: “Putting our best foot forward – The Judiciary and the challenges of satisfying justice needs of the 21st century.”
Wale said that stakeholders in the Nigerian judiciary sector should as part of the judiciary reform process ensure that nobody would be appointed a judicial officer without the NBA’s consent or input.
He said that judges should henceforth be appointed from among lawyers with cognate practice experience and of proven integrity “because the bar knows its members”.
The NBA president observed that in Nigeria, persons with little or no serious practice of law had been appointed judges in the past on the basis of political and family affiliations.
He said: “The bar uses this medium to invite all stakeholders to be part of the process of judicial reform in Nigeria, without which we would have lost it as a nation.
“We, in the NBA repeat our call that practicing lawyers and distinguished university jurists should be appointed to the High Courts, Appellate Courts, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
“Nobody should be appointed a judicial officer without the consent of the NBA, which should be made an important part of the process of making such judicial appointment.”
Wali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, observed that interference by politicians constituted the greatest danger to the appointment of quality judges and urged the conference to address it.
He said that favouritism in judicial appointments was worse with politicians.
He said that they politicise judicial appointments with the expectation of loyalty to political parties “Okija-Shrine-style”.
Participants at the conference included legal luminaries from in and outside Nigeria such as the Chief Justices of Nigeria and South Africa.