Oct 25, 2016

Duties and Powers of The National Judicial Council (NJC)





The National Judicial Council is one of the Federal Executive Bodies created by virtue of Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In order to insulate the Judiciary from the whims and caprices of the Executive; hence guarantee the independence of this Arm of Government, which is a sine qua non for any democratic Government, the National Judicial Council was created and vested with enormous powers and functions.


By the provision of Paragraph 20 of Part One of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended,

The national Judicial Council comprises of the following Members: -

    • the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who shall be the Chairman;
    • the next most senior Justice of the supreme Court who shall be the Deputy Chairman;
    • the President of the Court of Appeal;
    • five retired Justices selected by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal;
    • the chief Judge of the Federal High Court;
    • the President, National Industrial Court;
    • five Chief Judges of State to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among the Chief Judges of the States and of the High Court of the Federal Territory, Abuja in rotation to serve for two years;
    • one Grand Kadi to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among Grand Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal to serve in rotation for two years;
    • one President of the Customary Court of Appeal to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria from among the Presidents of the Customary Courts of Appeal to serve in rotation for two years;
    • five members of the Nigerian Bar Association who have been qualified to practice for a period of not less than fifteen years, at least one of whom shall be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to serve for two years and subject to re-appointment: Provided that the five members shall sit in the Council only for the purposes of considering the names of persons for appointment to the superior courts of record; and
    • two person not being Legal Practitioners, who in the opinion of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, are of unquestionable integrity

The duties and role of the NJC are also provided for by the provision of Paragraph 21 of Part One of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended; which provides that; 

The National Judicial Council shall have the power to:

1.     Recommend to the President from among the list of persons submitted to it by -
o    the Federal Judicial Service Commission, persons for appointment to the Offices of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court, and
o    the Judicial Service Committee of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, persons for appointment to the Offices of the Chief Judge and Judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the Grand Kadi and Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;

2.     recommend to the President the removal from office of the Judicial Officers specified in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such Officers;

3.     recommend to the Governors from among the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commissions persons for appointments to the Offices of the Chief Judges of the States and Judges of the High Courts of the States, the Grand Kadis and Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal of the States; and President and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal of the States;

4.     recommend to the Governors the removal from office of the Judicial Officers specified in sub-paragraph (c) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers;

5.     collect, control and disburse all moneys, capital and recurrent, for the judiciary;

6. advise the President and Governors in any matter pertaining to the judiciary as may be referred to the Council by the President or the Governors;

7.  appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over Members and staff of the Council;

8.     control and disburse all monies, capital and recurrent, for the services of the Council; and

9.deal with all other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration.

10.   The Secretary of the Council shall be appointed by the National Judicial Council on the recommendation of the Federal Judicial Service Commission and shall be a Legal Practitioner.”

The Honourable Court in Nwaogwugwu v. President F.R.N. (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 358) 1327 at 1356, paras D - F (CA), held that the National Judicial Council is a creation of the Constitution. Its traditional role is as defined by the Constitution and it includes inter alia to make appointments and to exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers. 

Per GALINJE, J.C.A. in Page 45, paras. E-F, in the case of OPENE v. NJC & ORS. (2011) LPELR-4795(CA) further held that Section 158 (1) of the Constitution has clearly provided that the National Judicial Council (NJC) shall not be subject to the direction and control of any other authority in exercising its power to make appointments or to exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers.

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