With Eight Newly Sworn in Justices, S’ Court Nears 21 Full Complement of Bench, Says CJN

Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed

By Alex Enumah

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Friday observed that with the swearing-in of eight newly appointed justices, the bench of the Supreme Court is one justice short of its full complement of 21 justices.

Justice Muhammad, who lauded the president for the appointment, stated that the figure is the highest in recent times.

President Muhammadu Buhari, acting on the recommendations of the National Judicial Council (NJC), had last month, sent the names of eight justices to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The Justices include Lawal Garba, (North-west), Helen Ogunwumiju (South-west), Abdu Aboki (North-west), and M M Saulawa (North-west).

Others are, Adamu Jauro (North-east), Samuel Oseji (South-south), Tijani Abubakar (North-east), and Emmanuel Agim (South-south).

None was however appointed from the North-central and Southeast.

Speaking shortly after he administered the oath of office on the new justices, the CJN said: “Before now, there are only 12 Justices on the bench of the Supreme Court but with the new eight justices, we now have 20 justices. This brings us close to the full complement of 21 as stipulated by the constitution.”

Notwithstanding the near full complement, the CJN however, advocated the appointment of the remaining one on the grounds that sooner than later, some of the judges on the bench of the Supreme Court would be going on retirement.

While congratulating the new justices on their elevation to the bench of the apex court, Justice Muhammad advised them to be focused and not allow their personal ambition becloud their sense of judgement.

According to him, the justices should begin to see themselves as God’s representative on earth and make a conscious effort to halt “interactions with people of unenviable inclinations and pedigree”, if they have any.

“Let your conscience guide and filter every thought that traverses your mind from this moment,” he said.

While noting that the justices may have at one time or the other been confronted with some forms of criticism or verbal assaults by litigants who lost their cases, he admonished them to be prepared because, “more of such will come your way, where appellant’s expectations are often very high and infectious”.

According to him, it is necessary to do so because it is impossible to please everyone, especially litigants.

“I am, however, making it absolutely clear to you that the easiest way to fail in life is to try pleasing everybody.

“The only deity you can fear is the Almighty God. Once your judgment is in consonance with what God expects from you and is also in accordance with the constitution, you should consider yourself the happiest and freest person on earth,” he said.

The CJN reminded the new justices that their elevation to the Supreme Court is in recognition of their astuteness and evident passion for hard work and urged them to bring their experiences and dexterity to bear at the apex court.

He further charged them to be morally upright, be persons of integrity and always respect the constitution and other extant laws of the country.