By Olalekan Awojodu
The Senate Tuesday confirmed the elevation of Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju and seven other justices to the apex court.
With the appointments, the Supreme Court now have 20 Justices, the first time it will have such number of Justices, the full complement of the court being 21.
While Ogunwumiju was nominated as a Justice of the Supreme Court from the South West geopolitical zone, others who were confirmed alongside were Hon. Justice Lawal Garba (North West); Hon. Justice Addu Aboki (North West); Hon. Justice I. M. M. Saulawa (North West) and Hon. Justice Adamu Jauro (North East).
Others were: Hon. Justice Samuel C. Oseji (South South); Hon. Justice Tijjani Abubakar (North East) and Hon. Justice Emmanuel A. Agim (South South).
The confirmation the Supreme Court Justices followed consideration and approval of the report of the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) at plenary.
In its findings, the committee held that the appointment of the nominees, satisfied the requirement of Sections 230 (2) and 231 (1) and (2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which makes provisions for the appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and the Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended.
According to the report, upon confirmation of the appointment of the nominees by the Senate, all the Geo-political Zones will be represented by 3 or 4 Justices as the case may be “except the North-Central Zone, which will maintain its current two Justices on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
While explaining reasons why the North-Central zone has two Justices unlike other zones, the committee Chairman added: “The reason can be attributed to the fact that during the selection process, the nomination from the zone was stood down by the selection Committee for further review of the nomination by the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
“Necessary steps are being taken to meet the full complement of the maximum number of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in line with constitutional provision.
“In this regard, one more appointment from the North-Central Zone, which is in the offing, will complete the maximum number of Justices and balance the representation, across the geo-political zones,” he said.
Describing the appointment of Eight Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria at one stretch as a bold step taken by President Muhammadu Buhari, he assured that the move will further strengthen the Judiciary to meet up with the challenges of the 21st Century.
“Being the first time ever, that the country will be having 20 Justices on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria,” he added.