Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to ratify the names of the Court of Appeal Justices recommended by the National Judicial Council for appointment to the Supreme Court bench.
The senior lawyer asked President Buhari to confirm the four names sent to him by the NJC in October 2019.
Falana, in the letter, informed President Buhari that the judges in the apex court had been reduced to 12, a state that is contrary to the position of Section 230 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
The letter reads, “Sometime in October, 2019, the National Judicial Council did recommend four justices of the Court of Appeal namely Justice Adamu Jauro, Justice Emmanuel A. Agim; Justice C. Oseji; and Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju for appointment as justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). But for reasons best known to Your Excellency, the names of the four justices have not been forwarded to the Senate for confirmation as required by Section 231(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“However, it may interest Your Excellency to know that the number of justices on the Supreme Court bench has been depleted to 12 contrary to Section 230 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which stipulates that the Supreme Court of Nigeria “shall consist of such number of Justices not exceeding 21 as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly”.
“The need to ratify and forward the names of these justices to the Senate for confirmation becomes more crucial and urgent if viewed against the backdrop of the clamour for prison decongestion being championed by Your Excellency. Just last month, Your Excellency forwarded a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria requesting that measures be taken by the judiciary to decongest prisons and detention facilities across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Falana further stated that according to information, the low number of judges had been one of the main causes of prison congestion adding that the Supreme Court has not been able to hear and determine many criminal appeals due to lack of enough justices.
He also said that the workload and the number of civil and criminal appeals pending at the Supreme Court would be significantly reduced if the four justices are appointed without any further delay.
“We are persuaded that Your Excellency would be furthering the cause of prison decongestion by expeditiously ratifying the names recommended by the NJC and forward same to the Senate for confirmation.
“While urging Your Excellency to promote the cause of justice by expeditiously ratifying the names recommended by the NJC and forward same to the Senate for confirmation please accept the assurances of our highest esteem and professional regards,” Falana added.