The Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), a human rights advocacy group has expressed displeasure over the selection process of Mabel Taiye Segun-Bello to fill the Osun State slot in the current appointment of six additional justices of the Federal High Court.
The National Judicial Council (NJC), at its 97th meeting held from March 15 to 26, 2022, had recommended Segun-Bello for an appointment.
The Executive Chairman of CHRSJ, Adeniyi Suleiman, in a petition addressed to the Presidency had called for the immediate review of the exercise by the presidency and the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation so as not to put the judicial processes in jeopardy.
According to Suleiman, this was necessary because the judiciary is the bastion of hope for seekers of justice in the country.
"Over 150 legal practitioners from Osun, had applied for a slot as judges of the Federal High Court which was advertised in late 2020.
"As of 7th March 2021, six out the over 150 that applied, were shortlisted. These include Ajibade Bolatito Florence, Ayilara Olusegun Ayodele (PhD), Olakunle Yusuf, Oladigbolu Abidemi Monday, Justice Fagbenle Emmanuel Olusegun and Abodunde Hazrat Babalakin-Are.
"However, strangely and against known judicial recruitment practices, on 24th March 2021, a supplementary shortlist signed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, which has another nominee, Mabel Taiye Segun-Bello from Osun, was released.
"Sometimes in February 2022, three among the six shortlisted, which includes Olakunle Yusuf, Oladigbolu Abidemi Monday and Ayilara Olusegun Ayodele were called for interview at the behest of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
"This privilege was also later extended to Mabel who had emerged through an afterthought supplementary shortlist, being the only one on the controversial list.
"To the chagrin of judicial experts and watchers, the known judicial righteous tradition of recruitment was abandoned to pave way for the last person brought in through the backdoor called supplementary list and was named the chosen one," Suleiman held.
Reacting to the development, the CHRSJ in its petition to the Presidency, Attorney General of the Federation as well as the NJC, threatened a showdown if nothing concrete was urgently done to redress the anomaly.
Bemoaning the development, CHRSJ noted, "Judiciary is the last hope of not only the common man but everyone whose rights have been trampled upon. So if those in charge are already soiled through questionable appointments, then there seems to be no hope for anyone seeking justice."
The group which noted that it was only clamouring for the right thing to be done by ensuring that the due process was entrenched and followed to the letter added that it suspected foul play in the whole arrangement.
While stressing that the selection process of Segun-Bello was corruption laden and dangerous if allowed to sail through, CHRSJ which added that it was not against her person but is against the process through which she emerged affirmed that nobody can justifiably convince it that her recruitment was not preplanned.
“We suspect foul play in the whole arrangement and that is why nobody can justifiably convince us that Mabel’s recruitment was not preplanned. We are not against Mabel Taiye Segun-Bello but we are seriously against the process through which she’s trying to emerge; it’s corruption-laden and will be dangerous if allowed to sail through."
Continuing, the CHRSJ urged that:” The Presidency, Attorney General of the Federation and others concerned must urgently do the needful to rectify the situation. Anything short of this will ensure that we do not leave any stone unturned in getting justice and enforcing it. We should not be taken for granted."