Reduction in Number of Justices Increasing Supreme Court Workload – CJN

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Honourable Justice Ariwoola

The acting chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, says depletion in the number of supreme court judges has become a burden to the apex court.

The acting CJN said this on Thursday while speaking at the valedictory ceremony for Abdu Aboki, a retired supreme court justice.

Aboki clocked 70 years on August 5, 2022, being the statutory retirement age for justices of the supreme court.

However, the valedictory court session could not hold at the time due to the annual vacation of the court.

Aboki is the third supreme court justice to retire in 2022 — after the retirement of Mary Peter-Odili and Ejembi Eko.

Ibrahim Muhammad, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), resigned under controversial circumstances in June.

With Aboki’s exit, the number of supreme court justices has dropped to 13 as against the maximum requirement of 21.

“His lordship’s exit from our fold has drastically depleted our ranks and opened a yawning gap that will hardly be filled,” Ariwoola said.

“A single drop in the number of justices here brings about a sudden increase in our workload.”

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), in response to the CJN’s concern, criticised the appointment procedure for judges in the appellate courts.

Onomigbo Okpoko, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who represented BOSAN, said the “process appears to have been designed and operated to exclude good and competent lawyers” from being appointed judges of appellate courts.

The body queried the rejection of the nominations of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for appointment to the supreme court by the immediate-past CJN.

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The NBA had, in 2017, made some nominations for the bench of the apex court.

But none of the nominees, who included SANs and academic professors, made it to the supreme court.

“Agitation for lawyers appointment to appellate courts won’t go away,” Okpoko added.

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