House of Representatives on Thursday called for the involvement of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in the removal of heads of courts to avoid victimisation by the executive arm.

This emanated during the debate at the second reading of a Bill to amend some sections of the 1999 Constitution on the procedure for removal of judges, sponsored by Rep. Datti Muhammad (APC-Kaduna).
The Bill seeks to include the National Judicial Council in the procedure for removal of heads of courts established by the Constitution under Section 6 (5).

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Currently, NJC can only recommend the sack of judges to the President. But if the Bill is passed, the body will be involved in the removal of any erring judge.

Leading debate on the bill, Muhammad said the purpose of the proposed amendment was to ensure that heads of courts were not victimised through removal by the executive, acting in concert with the legislature.

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According to the lawmaker, the objective of the Bill is to subject judicial personnel serving as heads of courts established under Section 6 (5) of the Constitution removable only upon the advice of National Judicial Council.

“On many occasions, judicial personnel have been removed from office on trump up allegations without recourse to a body charged with the constitutional responsibility to investigate and recommend appropriate disciplinary action.

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“Since the provisions in the Constitution did not give the National Judicial Council any role in the removal of heads of courts, it has left them at the mercy and whims of the executive,” he added.

The Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, referred the Bill to Committee on Constitution Review.