Reps may increase Supreme Court justices from 21 to 41

The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, passed through First Reading a bill which seeks to increase the number of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from 21 to 41.

The bill which seeks to alter the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Cap. C23, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, was sponsored by Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Hon Onofiok Luke.

According to the proponent of the bill, the proposed amendment was aimed to ensure expedite dispensation of justice and hearing and determination of appeals and for related matters.

The bill seen by Tribune Online seeks to alter Section 230(2a) of the Principal Act by substituting for the word ‘twenty-one’, the word ‘forty-one’.

Also at plenary, the House passed through First Reading a Bill which seeks to make all appeals to the Supreme Court to be by leave in order to reduce the workload on the Court, expedite hearing and determination of appeals, and encourage efficiency and quality.

As proposed by Hon Onofiok Luke, the proposed legislation seeks to alter the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (First Alteration) Act, 2010 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Second Alteration) Act, 2010.

He solicited for the substitution for section 233 of the 1999 Constitution, section 24 of the Constitution (First Alteration) Act and section 6 of the Constitution (Second Alteration) Act.

Hon Luke also called for the amendment of Section 233 of the Constitution, section 24 of the First Alteration Act and section 6 of the Second Alteration Act to be substituted for the following new section- (1) The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction, to the exclusion of any other court of law in Nigeria, to hear and determine appeals from the Court of Appeal.

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“(2) All appeals from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court shall be with the leave of the Supreme Court except decisions on any question- (a) whether any person has been validly elected to the office of President or Vice President under this Constitution; (b) whether the term of office of President or Vice President has ceased; (c) whether the office of President or Vice President has become vacant; (d) whether any person has been validly elected to the office of Governor or Deputy Governor under this Constitution; (e) whether the term of office of a Governor or Deputy Governor has ceased; (f) whether the office of Governor or Deputy Governor has become vacant; and (g) any pre-election matter as provided under this Constitution.

Subsection (3) also provides that: The Supreme Court may dispose of any application for leave to appeal from any decision of the Court of Appeal in respect of any civil or criminal proceedings in which leave to appeal is necessary after consideration of the record of the proceedings if the Supreme Court is of the opinion that the interest of justice do not require an oral hearing of the application; while subsection (4)(a), (b) and (c) also stipulates that: “In considering application for leave to appeal, the Supreme shall have regard to the novelty or reconditeness of the decision sought to be appealed; the fact that the decision sought to be appealed against relates to interpretation or application of this Constitution, Chapter IV of this Constitution or is on the sentence of death; or interest of justice.

Subsection (5) also provides that: “An application for leave to appeal shall be heard and determined expeditiously by the Supreme Court and for the purpose of hearing and determining of an application for leave, the Supreme Court shall be duly constituted if it consists of not less than three Justices of the Supreme Court.

Subsection (6) stated that: “Any right or leave of appeal to the Supreme Court from the decisions of the Court of Appeal conferred by this section shall be exercisable in the case of civil proceedings, at the instance of a party thereto, or with the leave of the Supreme Court at the instance of any other person having an interest in the matter, and in the case of criminal proceedings, at the instance of an accused person, or with the leave of the Supreme Court at the instance of any other person having an interest in the matter, or subject to the provisions of this Constitution and any powers conferred upon the Attorney-General of the Federation or the Attorney-General of a State to take over and continue or to discontinue such proceedings, at the instance of such other authorities or persons as may be prescribed.

He also proposed that subsection (7) should provide that: “Any right or leave of appeal to the Supreme Court from the decisions of the Court of Appeal conferred by this section shall, subject to section 236 of this Constitution, be exercised in accordance with any Act of the National Assembly and rules of court for the time being in force regulating the powers, practice and procedure of the Supreme Court.”

Hon. Luke also proposed the Substitution for section 234 of the Constitution that will indicate that: “For the purpose of exercising any jurisdiction conferred upon it by this Constitution or any law, subject to section 233 (5) of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall be duly constituted if it consists of not less than five Justices of the Supreme Court; provided that where the Supreme Court is sitting to consider an appeal arising from the interpretation or application of this Constitution, Chapter IV of this Constitution, or to exercise its original jurisdiction in accordance with section 232 of this Constitution, the Court shall be constituted by seven Justices.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

 

 

Reps propose appointment of 41 Supreme Court justices

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