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CJN begins process to appoint 11 Supreme Court justices

CJN begins process to appoint 11 Supreme Court justices

Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has commenced the process of appointing 11 new judges to fill the bench depleted bench of the apex court.

This is coming on the heels of the controversy raised by revelation of Justice Musa Dattjio Muhammed over the exclusion of some regions from the Supreme Court.

The number of judges at the highest court in the land had reduced by more than 50% over the years.

The CJN, had in September last year decried the declining number of justices, saying it has worsened the workload of the court.

Reports revealed however that the NJC has concluded plans to fill the apex court’s bench to its full complement of 21 justices, a number the court has never achieved.

It was gathered that the NJC is likely to pick the new Supreme Court justices from among 10 Justices of the Court of Appeal for six North Central and South East slots.

The South East and North Central zones of the country no longer have representation at the Supreme Court bench, following the death and retirement of Justice Centus Nweze and Mohammed Dattijo respectively.

Justice Dattijo who represented the North-Central in the apex court retired from the bench on October 27, 2023, while Justice Centus Nweze who hails from Enugu State and represented the South East died on July 30, 2023.

With the exit of the two justices, the two regions no longer have representatives in the court.

Section 230 of the Constitution provides that the Supreme Court of Nigeria shall consist of (a) The Chief Justice of Nigeria (b) Such number of Justices of the Supreme Court, not exceeding 21 as may be prescribed by act of National Assembly.

In the history of the court, which was established on October 1, 1963, this is the first time two regions will be having no representation in the court.

At the moment, only nine justices out of the 21 seats on the Supreme Court bench are occupied; 12 seats are currently vacant.

Last week, the CJN said the court is now having the lowest number of Justices in its history.

According to him, the apex court is having only 10 Justices on its bench to tackle the heavy workload of pending cases.

“With Justice Musa Dattijo leaving us today after the retirement of Hon. Justice Adamu Amina Augie a few weeks ago, we are now left with just 10 Justices on the Supreme Court Bench; being the lowest we have ever had in contemporary history of the Court.

“However, I can confidently assure all the litigant public that efforts are in top gear to get on board a sizeable number of Justices to boost our rank and complement the tremendous effort we have been investing in the business of the Court”, he said.

With the number of justices at the Supreme Court reduced to nine, the court still needs about 12 new justices to have a full complement of the court.

Out of the 12, six are likely to come from the South East and North Central, while the remaining five will come from other geopolitical zones.

The remaining ten justices of the court are CJN Ariwoola, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who is next in line for the position of CJN, Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji,  Justice John Inyang Okoro, Justice Lawal Garba, Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju, Justice I.N. M. Saulawa, Justice Adamu Jauro, Justice Tijjani Abubakar and Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim.

At the Court of Appeal where the justices, especially the senior ones are expected to gain promotion to the apex court, some of them are due for promotion.

The list of senior Justices of the Court of Appeal, according to the hierarchy, shows that there are about 20 justices from the two regions who have no representation from the appellate court that can make it to the apex court.


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