Ever since the Chief Justice, Babatunde Edwards sent the longest serving Judge in the Judiciary, Nicolas Browne Marke on vacation leave on 31 March 2020, other judges in the superior court of judicature are now in panic that similar fate awaits them.
This was well-expressed by Appeals Court Judge, Reginald Sydney Fynn in a letter dated 15 April 2020 with the caption, The Power to Send Judges On Leave, Indefinite or Otherwise, which according to the Appeals Court Judge (Justice Fynn) was written against the backdrop on his recent enquiry on the Judges Whatsapp Forum about the authority of the Chief Justice to send judges on leave without the Judge concerned and or the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.
The Appeals Court Judge expressed fear that such authority will leave widely open a door for arbitrary, uneven and highhanded use on the one hand and inconvenience to a judge personal circumstances and indignity to the Office of Judge.
That it also has the propensity to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary, adding that; ‘I urge my lord that to date Judges have requested annual leave for your approval and I dare say that this is the spirit intended by the Judges Condition of Service.”
That upon conversation with the Chief Justice, both gentlemen (Chief Justice Edwards and Justice Fynn) had contrary views with regards the issue and that the CJ indicated that he was at liberty to take the matter up with the Judicial and Legal Service Commission
That the Judiciary and Legal Service Commission has not met since the start of the year, asking that the Chief Justice will be kind enough to summon the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to discuss amongst other things his concerns as to how the authority to send a Jude on leave is the sole and unfettered discretion of the Chief Justice may undermine the independence and ultimately the integrity of the Judiciary.
“My Lord as I write I already feel much pressure that because of my strong disagreement on this issue I may very well be sent on leave and that if I am not then it is only due to a restraint to avoid proving that the point is well mad,” panicky Justice Fynn expressed fear
Noting that; “if circumstances demand that a judge would be sent on leave it is my considered view that this must be subject to a clearly defined set of guidelines and to a process which ought to include advice from the Judicial and Legal Service Commission. Otherwise my Lord, Judges who may disagree with CJ in law, religion or even the desired outcome of a case become subject to a fear of reprisals in the form of compelled leave. Again, my Lord, no judge should serve under such circumstances.”
Before now a Legal Activist, Augustine Marrah has expressed similar sentiment.