Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari to speed up the appointment of additional four Justices of the Supreme Court who have been recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) since October 2019.
In a letter he sent to President Buhari, which was dated June 9, 2020, Falana argued that the delay in the appointment of the justices for the apex court would worsen prison congestion.
According to the senior lawyer: “Sometime in October, 2019, the National Judicial Council did recommend four Justices of the Court of Appeal namely Justice Adamu Jauro, Justice Emmanuel A. Agim; Justice C. Oseji; and Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“But for reasons best known to Your Excellency, the names of the four justices have not been forwarded to the Senate for confirmation as required by Section 231(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“However, it may interest Your Excellency to know that the number of justices on the Supreme Court bench has been depleted to 12, contrary to Section 230 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which stipulates that the Supreme Court of Nigeria ‘shall consist of such number of justices not exceeding 21 as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly’.
“The need to ratify and forward the names of these justices to the Senate for confirmation becomes more crucial and urgent if viewed against the backdrop of the clamour for prison decongestion being championed by Your Excellency.”
Falana argued that “one of the main causes of prison congestion is that the Supreme Court has not been able to hear and determine many criminal appeals due to lack of enough justices.”