A bill for an act to amend the court of appeal act to provide for more judges for the appellate court has scaled second reading at the senate.
The bill seeks to amend the act by increasing the number of judges for the court from 90 to 110.
It will create room for the apopointment of the judges from lower courts as well as the creation of more divisions of the court.
Chukwuka Utazi, senator representing Enugu north and sponsor of the bill, said the amendment will bring the court of appeal closer to litigants and address allegations of marginalisation in the appointment of the judges.
Last week, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended 18 judges to President Muhammadu Buhari for elevation to the court of appeal.
But Utazi said while the number is small, “only 20 justices can be appointed at the moment except its principal act is amended.”
He said the court of appeal currently has only 17 divisions with less than 70 justices across the country.
“The court of appeal is suffering from chronic conjestion and has backlog of cases due to the volume of appeals in its backlog,” the lawmaker said.
“Inspite of its enormous responsibility, its composition has lagged behind the dispensation of the volume of appeals as litigants often have to wait for several years for their appeals to be heard.”
Stephen Odey from Cross River north agreed with Utazi’s submission, saying that “one of the greatest challenges we have in our judiciary today is the number of justices to address litigations.”
“The court of appeal is very strategic,” he said, adding that “I stand to support this Bill in totality.”