BY BODE GBADEBO AND EMAMEH GABRIEL, Abuja
The apex Court in the land is set to have a full complement of 21 Justices on its bench for the first time as provided for by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) with the confirmation of the appointment of eight new Justices for the Supreme Court by the Senate on Tuesday.
LEADERSHIP reports that with this development and upon subsequent swearing-in of the new Justices, the number of the Justices on the bench will now stand at 20, just one short of the prescribed number of a full complement of 21 Justices.
The confirmation of the nominees followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters at plenary.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), in his presentation stated that the appointment of the nominees, satisfied the requirement of Sections 230(2) and 232(1) and (2) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
According to the Committee’s report, “upon confirmation of the appointment of the nominees by the Senate, all geo-political zones will be represented by three or four Justices, as the case may be, except the North-Central Zone, which will maintain its current two Justices on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
Bamidele however explained that the reason why the North-Central zone has two Justices unlike other zones, can be attributed to the fact that during the selection process, the nomination from the zone was stood down by the selection Committee for a further review of the nomination by the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
He added that while necessary steps were being taken to meet the full complement of the maximum number of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the appointment of the new eight Justices of the Supreme Court was a bold step taken by President Buhari to strengthen the Judiciary to meet with the challenges of the 21st Century.
Lawmakers, including the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central); Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North; and Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East) in their contributions, expressed satisfaction with the qualification, experience and competence of the nominees.
The upper chamber in a Committee of the Whole, thereafter, confirmed the nominations of the eight appointees as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The confirmed Justices are: Hon. Justice Lawal Garba (North-West); Hon. Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju (South-West); Hon. Justice Addu Aboki (North-West); Hon. Justice I. M. M. Saulawa (North-West); Hon. Justice Adamu Jauro (North-East); Hon. Justice Samuel C. Oseji (South-South); Hon. Justice Tijjani Abubakar (North-East); and Hon. Justice Emmanuel A. Agim (South-South).
With the confirmation of their appointments, the North-West, North-Central and North-East geo-political zones will have four, two and four Justices on the Supreme Court Bench respectively, while the South-West, South-East and South-South will have four, three and three Justices respectively.