Supreme Court Justices Reduce to 11 by Thursday as Justice Augie retires 


As preparations are underway for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to assemble the panel tasked with adjudicating on all petitions arising from the 2023 presidential election, the Supreme Court will see its bench reduced to 11 justices by Thursday.

This reduction in the number of justices at the apex court, an all-time low, is the result of the retirement of Justice Amina Augie from Kebbi State. Although Justice Augie reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 on September 3, the court officially announced that she would formally conclude her tenure on Thursday, in accordance with the retirement age for justices.

It’s worth noting that in November 2020, the number of justices at the court had reached an unprecedented high of 20, following the elevation of eight justices in a single appointment, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. This development had raised hopes that, for the first time in history, the Supreme Court would achieve the full complement of 22 justices as stipulated by Section 230 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

However, the passing of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta on March 7, 2021, less than a month before his retirement, and the retirement of Justice Rhodes-Vivour two weeks later, reduced the count to 18 justices. Subsequently, before their replacements could be appointed, Justice Samuel Oseji passed away in September 2021, and Justice Mary Odili retired on May 12, 2022, while Justice Ejembi Eko retired on May 23, 2022.

Further diminishing the bench, the then CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, voluntarily resigned in June 2022, and Justice Abdul Aboki retired on August 5 of the same year. This left the Supreme Court with just 13 justices.

Tragically, Justice Chima Centus Nweze, the sole Justice from the South East region, passed away on July 29, 2023, after a brief illness.

As concerns mount regarding the increasing workload on the apex court, it is worth noting that Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad is due to retire on October 27, and CJN Justice Ariwoola is set to leave the bench on December 31. The remaining justices on the Supreme Court bench include Kudirat Motomori Kekere-Ekun (retiring in 2026), John Inyang Okoro (retiring in 2029), Uwani Abba Aji (retiring in 2026), Garba Lawal (retiring in 2028), and Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju (retiring in 2027).

Others include Ibrahim Saulawa (retiring in 2026), Adamu Jauro (retiring in 2029), Tijjani Abubakar (retiring in 2030), and Emmanuel Agim (retiring in 2030).

Pursuant to the combined provisions of paragraphs 13 (a) and 21 (a) of the 3rd Schedule Part 1 of the Constitution, the National Judicial Council (NJC), with the advice of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), holds the statutory authority to nominate and recommend the appointment of Supreme Court justices to President Bola Tinubu.

Additionally, Section 234 of the Constitution mandates the Supreme Court to hear cases in panels consisting of either 5 or 7 justices.


Source: Vanguard Ng.

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