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The Nation

Reps mull two-month timeframe for appointment of s’court justices

BY Samuel Akpan

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A bill seeking to set a two-month timeframe for the appointment of justices to the supreme court has passed the second reading at the house of representatives.

The bill which is sponsored by Sulaiman Gumi, a lawmaker from Zamfara, seeks to amend section 231 of the constitution to establish a two-month timeframe for the National Judicial Council (NJC) to recommend a judge for appointment by the president as a justice of the supreme court when vacancies exist.

On Monday, Olukayode Ariwoola, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), swore in 11 new justices to the bench of the supreme court.

Before the recommendation by the NJC and the appointment by President Bola Tinubu, the supreme court had only 10 justices due to the retirement and death of some of the judges.

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The constitution allows the supreme court to have maximum of 21 justices.

The last time the apex court had the full complement of 21 justices as prescribed by the constitution was in 2020.

In September 2023, while speaking at a valedictory session held in her honour, Amina Augie, decried the workload that the apex court judges have to deal with.

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Leading the debate during plenary session on Tuesday, Gumi said the delay in the appointment of judges affects the quick dispensation of justice.

“The year 2023 will go down in history as the year our dear country witnessed repeated calls by retired justices and lawyers on the need to urgently fill the vacant seats at the supreme court bench to reduce the workload on jurists,” he said.

The legislator said if passed into law, the bill will prevent a vacuum in the supreme court bench when a justice retires,  thus “ensuring speedy delivery of cases”.

The bill was unanimously voted for when it was put to a voice vote by Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house.

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