A report by Thisday has revealed that about three hundred private legal practitioners and magistrates have been shortlisted for the second stage of the recruitment exercise by the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) to fill ten vacancies in the Federal High Court (FHC). According to the report, the shortlisted candidates, who were selected from the six geopolitical zones in the country, were pruned from a list of close to one thousand lawyers who initially applied for the openings at the FHC. Sources quoted in the report confirmed that the 300 candidates will be interviewed by the FJSC in July and are slated to go through another round of interviews at the National Judicial Council (NJC) in August, following which successful candidates will be announced and sworn-in in September.
A letter to the shortlisted candidates directed the candidates to proceed to the Department of State Services (DSS) for clearance after Sallah holiday. It also instructed them to furnish the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Auta, with the relevant court documents as a prerequisite for their appointment to the ten posts in the FHC. The letter, however, exempted court registrars and qualified lawyers serving or working in government departments and ministries and who had been shortlisted from presenting any cases. The candidates are required also to obtain the NJC Form A from the Chief Judge’s chambers.
FHC last month had announced plans to recruit ten additional judges in order to address the challenges posed by the shortage of judges. The court had in the past blamed delays in the determination of cases on the paucity of judges. The court, initially designated the Federal Revenue Court, was established by the Federal Revenue Act, 1973. It was renamed the Federal High Court by Section 228(1) and 230(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979. As a premier court of first instance, the FHC has recorded impressive growth since its inception in 1973 and has become an important pillar amongst the courts in the Federal Judiciary. From its pioneering five judges, the court now has 69 judges and 36 judicial divisions spread across the country.