The federal government has been urged to appoint more justices to the Supreme Court in order to accelerate the determination of cases and dispensation of justice.
Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom), whose motion the House adopted on Thursday, February 20, 2020, said he had observed that the apex court, due to shortage of hands, cannot have two panels of seven justices to see to more than a legal suit at a time, thereby footdragging court hearings.
Mr. Luke, a former speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, argued that with the “huge responsibility of handling a high volume of cases” placed on the shoulders of the Supreme Court, having insufficient justices would make the court inefficient, thereby having a ripple effect on the justice system of the country.
While section 230(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution prescribes a maximum of twenty-one Justices in the Supreme Court, Onofiok noted that the number of justices of the Supreme Court has been reduced to 13 as a result of the recent retirement of Justice Amiru Sanusi.
With the “impending retirement of more Justices in a few months, the situation will become worse,” Onofiok said.
“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,” he said, adding, “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.”
“Some cases stay undecided in the Supreme Court for over ten years and that as of now, the diary of the Supreme Court is full with no date for a new appeal until 2021.”
He, therefore, prayed that new justices should be appointed to the land’s highest court for quicker dispensation of justice, and his prayer was adopted by the majority vote.