Home » Judiciary » Supreme Court bench depletes to 10 as Justice Dattijo bows out this week Friday

Supreme Court bench depletes to 10 as Justice Dattijo bows out this week Friday



By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja

As the Supreme Court kick-starts hearing on all the appeals that are seeking to nullify the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, it will by Friday, have only 10 justices on its bench.

The further depletion of the apex court bench follows the exit of Justice Musa Dattijo who will clock the 70 years mandatory retirement age on October 27.

The court, in a statement that was signed by its Director of Press and Information, Dr. Akande Aweneri Festus, disclosed that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, will preside over a valedictory session that will be held in honour of the retiring jurist, on Friday.

Remarkably, the number of justices of the court unprecedentedly rose to 20 in November 2020, after President Muhammadu Buhari okayed the elevation of eight justices at a go.

Their appointment had sparked hope that the apex court would for the first time in history, attain the full complement of 21 justices as prescribed by Section 230 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

However, with the death of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta on March 7, 2021, about 23 days before to his retirement, and the retirement of Justice Rhodes-Vivour 14 days later, only 18 Justice were left on the apex court bench.

Before their replacements could be appointed, Justice Samuel Oseji died on September 2021, aged 67, less than a year after his appointment to the Supreme Court.

Likewise, while Justice Mary Odili, who became the second most senior jurist of the court, retired on May 12, 2022, Justice Ejembi Eko also bowed out of active judicial service on May 23, 2022.

In a shocking move, the then CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, voluntarily resigned his position in June, 2022, even as Justice Abdul Aboki retired on August 5, last year, thereby reducing the number of justices of the Supreme Court to 13.

Justice Chima Centus Nweze, who was the only Justice of the court from the South East region, died in Abuja, after a brief illness on July 29 this year, while Justice Amina Augie retired on September 3, even though the valedictory session to mark her exit from the apex court bench was held on September 17.

As stakeholders demand urgent elevation of new justices in view of the mounting workload on the apex court, Vanguard earlier reported that the CJN, Justice Ariwoola, will equally exit the bench on August 22, 2024.

Other remaining justices on the apex court bench, are; Kudirat Motomori Kekere-Ekun (to retire 2026), John Inyang Okoro (2029), Uwani Abba Aji (2026), Garba Lawal (2028), Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju (2027), as well as; Ibrahim Saulawa (2026), Adamu Jauro (2029), Tijjani Abubakar (2030) and Emmanuel Agim (2030).

By the combined provisions of paragraphs 13 (a) & 21 (a) of the 3rd Schedule Part 1, of the Constitution, the National Judicial Council, NJC, upon the advice of the Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC, has the statutory power to nominate and recommend the appointment of justices of the Supreme Court to President Bola Tinubu.

Section 234 of the Constitution mandates the Supreme Court to hear cases in a panel of 5 or 7 justices.

With the further depletion of the number of justices on the apex court to 10, it may be impossible for the court to raise two panels to hear many pending appeals, once it flags-off proceedings on the 2023 presidential election dispute on Monday.

Meantime, Justice Dattijo, who hails from Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger State, was born on October 27,1953, in Minna.

He was called to the Nigerian Bar on July 2, 1977 and he took the oath of office as Justice of the Supreme Court on July 10, 2012.


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Posted by on Oct 22 2023. Filed under Judiciary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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