The Federal High Court Abuja on Sunday said that there was no plot to undermine its acting Chief Judge (CJ), Justice John Tsoho, from becoming the substantive CJ.
In a swift reaction to the allegations by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) the Chief Registrar, Emmanuel Gakko in Abuja, described the claim as falsehood.
CUPP had, on Sept. 20, accused the ruling All Progressives Congress ( APC) of a plot to influence the selection of new Supreme Court justices ahead of move by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Presidential Candidate in the Feb. 23 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his party to appeal against the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which recently affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral victory.
CUPP’s Spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, who made the allegation at a news conference in Abuja, said they “intercepted a secret list of handpicked justices in violation of the Supreme Court tradition of seven most senior justices.”
The group accused the APC of working with some high ranking members of the judiciary to “constitute members of the presidential election panel with justices whose only reason of being selected is the guaranteed assurance that no matter what the law says, the president must be returned and affirmed against all known principles in our constitutional governance.”
The coalition also alleged a “sudden change in the proposed screening of the nominated Justices of Supreme Court and the suspicion of a plot to stop the acting Chief Judge Tsoho, who is also the most senior judge, from becoming the substantive chief judge based on ethnic and religious sentiments.”
Reacting, Gakko said that the court and by extension, the entire judiciary, had well-established policies and procedures guiding the issue of succession.
“Our attention has been drawn to claims by certain persons and groups (notably, the Coalition of United Political Parties [CUPP]) on alleged attempts to tamper with the hierarchy and/or succession to the headship of the Federal High Court.
“We wish to state categorically that there are well-established policies and procedures guiding the issue of succession, not only in the Federal High Court, but for all the hierarchy of courts in Nigeria.
“His lordship, the acting Chief Judge is well acquainted with the procedure(s) for succession in the leadership of the court, which so far have not been detracted from as to give him cause for alarm and warrant expressing any reservations or procuring anyone to make a case on his behalf.
“We wish to state unequivocally that the Federal High Court and indeed our Acting Chief Judge, the Hon. Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, hereby completely disassociate themselves from any persons and groups that have come out to make public statements concerning succession to the leadership of the Federal High court of Nigeria,” he said.