The Appearing Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, final week drew the nation’s consideration to the sordid actuality that the depletion within the variety of Supreme Court docket Justices is a burden to Nigeria’s apex courtroom.
This growth is worrisome, contemplating the truth that the 2023 basic elections are quick approaching.
Justice Ariwoola spoke final week in Abuja at a valedictory session in honour of a retired Justice of the Supreme Court docket (JSC) Abdu Aboki. Justice Aboki retired from the apex courtroom on August 5 after clocking the necessary retirement age of 70.
He retired about two months after the speedy previous CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, resigned on June 27, 2022, some 18 months to the necessary age of 70. Previous to Tanko’s resignation, Justice Mary Odili had additionally retired from the highest bench on Could 12, 2022.
With the exit of Odili, Tanko and Aboki, the variety of judges on the Supreme Court docket bench dropped from 21 (offered by the Nigerian Structure) to 13, thus giving a shortfall of eight.
Talking throughout the session, Appearing CJN Ariwoola stated: “His Lordship’s exit from our fold has drastically depleted our ranks and opened a yawning hole that can hardly be stuffed.”
He bemoaned the burden the retirement locations on the serving JSCs, including “a single drop within the variety of justices right here brings a couple of sudden enhance in our workload.”
Whereas pouring encomiums on the retired jurist, the CJN described Aboki as a “man of dignity and distinction whose mastery of the regulation stands him out.”
He stated the retired jurist’s identify has been etched in gold for providing 46 years of his life within the service of his fatherland. Justice Ariwoola urged him to not hesitate to return to assistance from the nation every time his contributions had been wanted.
In his remarks, Legal professional-Common of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) stated Justice Aboki dropped at the duty of adjudication, an acute sense of equity and empathy.
Represented by the Everlasting Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice and Solicitor Common of the Federation, Beatrice Agba, the AGF expressed the nation’s gratitude to Aboki for his contributions to the development of the regulation.
President, Nigeria Bar Affiliation (NBA) Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) eulogised the jurist for increasing the frontiers of regulation follow.
Taking the centre stage to render his valedictory speech, Justice Aboki known as for transparency within the expenditure of funds belonging to the judiciary.
Within the speech titled ‘My valedictory messages to the nation and judiciary specifically,’ the jurist known as on “these in command of administering the funds allotted to the judiciary” in Nigeria “to be prudent, clear and accountable.”
On judges’ appointment, the retired JSC known as on the NJC to “place better premium on advantage than nationwide character and different primordial concerns.”
He urged the Nationwide Meeting to amend the structure to cut back the variety of appeals that go to the Supreme Court docket. This, he stated, would reduce the workload of the apex courtroom.
Whereas thanking God and all those that made his sojourn within the judiciary worthwhile, Justice Aboki known as on the manager arm of presidency to urgently evaluation the remuneration of judicial officers.
He additionally known as on the Nationwide Meeting to re-enact legal guidelines that would cut back the variety of instances attending to the apex courtroom for adjudication.
“Solely appeals regarding presidential election ought to come to the Supreme Court docket. Others ought to finish on the Court docket of Attraction. This name is of utmost significance, to be able to reduce the heavy burden of the justices of the courtroom,” the jurist stated.
He equally known as on the CJN and the Authorized Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) to evaluation the necessities for the conferment of the rank of SAN, saying this had change into crucial in view of the “many frivolous, vexatious and unnecessary appeals filed by attorneys desirous of the distinguished rank.”
The CJN’s lamentations on the gross shortfall within the variety of justices on the Supreme Court docket bench from the constitutionally stipulated 21 to a scanty 13 must be reason behind main concern to the manager and legislative arms of presidency.
That is particularly so given the truth that the nation is on the verge of a transitional switch of energy from one authorities to a different.
The federal government on the centre, majority of the governors throughout the 36 states of the federation, who’re finishing their two-term of eight years constitutional restrict, in addition to over two-thirds of members of the Nationwide Meeting, who misplaced their return bids, are exiting governance in 2023.
Consequently, the judiciary, which is the third arm of presidency and significant participant within the electoral course of, will, little question, must deal with a plethora of litigation that can naturally come up from the 2023 basic elections.
It’s on the backdrop of this undesirable scenario that we urge President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of utmost nationwide significance, provoke the method for the appointment of recent justices to the apex courtroom to allow the expeditious and considered dispensation of justice to aggrieved elective workplace seekers.
We, nevertheless, warning that correct scrutiny and due diligence have to be carried out to make sure that solely those that are certified and incorruptible are appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court docket.