The National Judicial Council is an innovation of the 1999 Constitution. The Chief Justice of Nigeria is the chairman of the council whose membership includes senior judges and judicial officers.
The council performs advisory and executive functions. In its advisory capacity, it advises the President on the appointment, discipline and removal of the Chief Justice, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the President and Justices of the Federal Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court, and the High Court of the FCT, Abuja, the Grand Khadi and Khadis of the Sharia Court of Apppeal of the FCT, Abuja and the President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of the FCT.
In performing this advisory function, it seeks the advice of the National Judicial Service Commission in the case of judges of the Supreme Court, Appeal Court and High Courts. It also seeks the advice of the Judicial Service Committee of the FCT in respect of judicial officers in the FCT, Abuja.
In the same vein, it advises state governors on the appointment, discipline and removal of Chief Judges and Judges of a state High Court; the Grand Kadis and Khadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal and the President and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal.
But the persons to be recommended by the National Judicial Council for appointment to judicial offices in the states must be from the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commission.
The National Judicial Council can also advise the President or a Governor on any matter referred to it by them.
As part of its executive function, the council collects, controls and distributes the capital and recurrent revenue of the judiciary.
The Council deserves credit for its role in the removal of the bad eggs in the court system, especially the Chief Judges who compromised the law in the impeachment of state governors in 2006 especially those of Anambra, Plateau and Ekiti states.
Perhaps the greatest challenge to the integrity of the NJC arose in 2011 when the president of the Federal Count of Appeal (Isa Salami), was suspended. Its recall of the jurist later was ignored by the presidency on the ground that the case was in the court!