The presidency has been explaining the reason for by President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in forwarding the nomination of Justice Monica Dongbam-Mensem as President, Court of Appeal, to the Senate for confirmation,
Justice Dongbam-Mensem, who had been recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to succeed Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa who retired in March, is presently occupying the position in an interim capacity.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, denied claims that Buhari has refused to send the judge’s name to the Senate because she is not a Muslim and does not hail from the core North.
Shehu added that the statutory time for the justice to act as the appellate court’s boss has not lapsed.
According to him, the system should be allowed to function effectively, and cited cases of some ministers who did not have National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificates in the past, as a major lesson on why proper security checks are necessary.
He said: “In making appointments upon the recommendations of other arms or agencies of the government, the president is not a rubber stamp that will mechanistically sign off on nominees that come before him.
“The president has a duty to ensure that all such appointments meet the requirements of the constitution and in protecting the supreme law of the land in this regard, he has an obligation to allow law enforcement and security agencies to do their work.
“Don’t forget our recent experience with ministers who were signed off upon and turned out as having not undertaking the compulsory national youth service, just to give you an example.
“In the specific case of the acting president of the Court of Appeal, Her Lordship Justice M. S Dongban-Mensem, the statutory regulatory time of her acting period has not lapsed.
“This is not about ethnicity or religion. It is about security and law enforcement agencies being allowed to complete their work. Nobody should seek to stampede the president in carrying out his constitutional duty in this respect. The president had not been a rubber stamp dealing with these matters before, and is not prepared to be one at this time. Let’s all allow the system to do what is right.”
The president has been under criticism, especially since the renewal of Justice Dongban-Mensem’s acting appointment for another three months, over the delay in confirming her nomination.
Some of the critics had attributed the delay to part of an alleged plot to edge her out of the post so she could be replaced by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, who chaired the 2019 presidential election petitions tribunal, which affirmed the president’s victory in the 2019 election.
A former Military Governor of Kaduna State, Colonel Dangiwa Umar (rtd), had in a recent open letter to the president, accused him of trying to stop
Justice Dongban-Mensem’s confirmation on the ground of religious and sectional biases.