The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to immediately appoint more justices for the Supreme Court to expedite the dispensation of justice in the country.
The House said the depleting number of justices of the Supreme Court has slowed down the quick
Adopting a motion of urgent public importance on the need to appoint more justices sponsored by Rep. Onifiok Akpan Luke, the House said with the present composition of the Supreme Court, it was extremely impossible to constitute two panels to sit on appeal.
He reminded the House that the Supreme Court of Nigeria which is the apex and final court of the land has original and appellate jurisdiction over the entire country to adjudicate on disputes and controversies arising from any subject matter.
He said further that as a result of its original and appellate jurisdiction over the entire country, the Supreme Court is faced with the huge responsibility of handling high volume of cases with minimal number of justices.
He disclosed that the number of justices of the Supreme Court has been reduced to 13 with the recent retirement of Hon. Justice Amiru Sanusi from the court, adding that the situation will become worse owing to the impending retirement of another justice of the court in few months from now.
He said further that section 230(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution prescribes the maximum number of the justices of the Supreme Court to be 21, stressing that the court in its history has never had a full complement of the prescribed 21 number of justices.
Rep Luke said while not asking the government to make the justices 21, it was evident that the reduction in the number of justices will slow down the dispensation of justice and affect the pace at which matters are meant to be determined, and will put the available number of justices of the court under immense pressure as there are many cases to be decided by the court;
He stressed that some cases have stay undecided in the Supreme Court for over ten years as a result of the shortage of justices of the court, adding that the diary of the Supreme Court is full with no date for a new appeal until 2021.
He maintained that appointing new justices to the Supreme Court will accelerate justice dispensation, expand the course of justice and increase citizens’ access to justice.
He said that the constitution required that a panel of seven justices sits on a case at every given time, adding that sometimes in December, the Supreme Court had to sit almost 12 hours because of the large volume of cases before it.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the House without debate.