The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, would on September 20 swear-in nine newly appointed Justices of the Court of Appeal. This comes as the retirement of Justice Amina Augie further reduces the number of justices on the bench of the Supreme Court, who are currently overlaboured by an excruciating workload.
Just a few years after it almost attained its full complement of 22 justices, the apex court has in the last three years been hit by a wave of retirement, death, and resignation. The bench witnessed a sharp drop from 21 justices to 13, while the death of Justice Centus Nweze, in July this year, brought it further down to 12, and the retirement of Augie on September 3, upon attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70 years, again reduced the number to 11.
It is from the 11 justices that the CJN would be expected to select seven justices that would hear appeals emanating from the presidential and governorship election petition tribunals.
According to a statement by the Supreme Court’s Director of Press and Information, Dr. Festus Akande, a traditional valedictory court session in honour of Augie would be held on Thursday.
The statement explained that the ceremony was delayed due to the annual vacation of the court, which ended on Friday, September 15.
Augie was sworn in as Justice of Supreme Court on November 7, 2016. She graduated with a Second Class Upper Division in Law from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1977 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978.
The remaining justices on the apex court’s bench are the CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola, Musa Dattijo, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, John Okoro, Uwani Abba-Aji, Garba Lawal, and Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju.
Others are Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Tijjani Abubakar, and Emmanuel Agim.
Meanwhile, the swearing-in ceremony of the new appellate court justices slated for Wednesday would be held at the Main Court auditorium of the Supreme Court.
The new justices include Hannatu Laja-Balogun from Kaduna State, who was appointed High Court Judge on May 24, 1999; and Binta Zubairu, also from Kaduna State, who became High Court Judge on October 31, 2001.
Others are: Peter Obiora from Anambra State, who became High Court Judge on January 17, 2005; Okon Abang from Akwa Ibom State, appointed High Court Judge on June 22, 2009; Asma’u Mainoma from the Federal Capital Territory, appointed High Court Judge on February 1, 2013; Lateef Ganiyu from Oyo State, who became High Court Judge on June 26, 2014; and Jane Iyang from Cross River State, who was sworn-in as High Court Judge on February 12, 2015.
The rest are Hadiza Shagari from Sokoto State, who was elevated to the High Court Bench on February 12, 2015; and Paul Bassi from Borno State, appointed to the High Court on July 14, 2017.
Alex Enumah in Abuja