Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to appoint more justices to the Supreme Court.
The House made the call at plenary yesterday following the adoption of a motion moved by the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Mr. Onofiok Luke.
Adopting the motion, the House “urges the federal government to appoint more justices to the Supreme Court in order to accelerate the determination of cases and dispensation of justice.”
The appointment of Supreme Court justices is an exclusive preserve of the president, who makes the appointment based on the recommendation by the NJC and subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Although the Supreme Court is supposed to comprise not more than 21 justices, there are only 13 justices on the bench, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Muhammad.
Moving the motion, Luke stated that the Supreme Court needed more justices for efficient and timely disposal of cases. He said: “The House notes that the Supreme Court of Nigeria is the apex and final court of the land with original and appellate jurisdiction over the entire country to adjudicate on disputes and controversies arising from any subject matter. As a result of its original and appellate jurisdiction over the entire country, the Supreme Court is faced with the huge responsibility of handling a high volume of cases with a minimal number of justices.
“The House is aware that the number of justices of the Supreme Court has been reduced to 13 with the recent retirement of Justice Amiru Sanusi from the court and the situation will become worse, owing to the impending retirement of another justice of the court in a few months from now.”
Luke cited Section 230(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as prescribing the maximum number of the justices of the Supreme Court to be 21 while the court in its history has not had a full complement of the prescribed 21 number of justices.