Reps passes bill to increase Appeal Court judges 

Elizabeth AtimeMay 16, 20243 min

The proposed legislation seeks the appointment of at least six justices within each Judicial division of the Court of Appeal to enhance the expediency and effectiveness of justice delivery.

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed for a second reading a bill to amend the Court of Appeal Act to increase its number of justices from 90 to 150.

The proposed legislation seeks the appointment of at least six justices within each Judicial division of the Court of Appeal to enhance the expediency and effectiveness of justice delivery.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Umoh, (PDP, Akwa Ibom) was passed during the plenary session presided over by Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu.

It is titled “A bill to amend the Court of Appeal Act, Cap C.36, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to increase the number of justices of the Court and provide for the appointment of a minimum of 6 justices in every Judicial division of the Court for speedy and efficient justice delivery and to improve citizens access to justice and related matters”

Leading debate on the general principles of the bill, Rep. Umoh explained that by the Court of Appeal (Amendment) Act 2005, the number of justices of the Court including its president was fixed at 70.

He said under the 2013 amendment of the Act, the number of justices was changed to 90. “The number of justices provided by the law has become inadequate given the recent creation of the new division of the Court- Kano, Gombe, Akwa, Asaba, etc”, he submitted.

According to Umoh,There is a high increase in the volume of cases attended to by the Court, which of course has necessitated the creation of the new divisions.

“This implies increased workload with fewer hands, which therefore affects quick dispensation at the appellate level”

The lawmaker noted that “Most of the divisions of the Court do not have up to 6 justices, implying that two panels of the Court cannot sit simultaneously to attend to cases, which therefore stall expeditious and timeouts hearing and disposition of cases.

“Judicial divisions of the Court with a huge volume of cases like Abuja and Lagos ought to have a minimum of nine judges so that the divisions can have three parallel sittings simultaneously.

“It is necessary to note that it is the same inadequate pool of justices of the Court of Appeal that are drawn to sit in Election Appeal Tribunals, thereby compounding delay in justice delivery”, he argued.

The amended Act aims to enhance the quality and reliability of judicial decisions by introducing additional personnel to the appellate adjudication process.”

This initiative will provide citizens with increased access to justice and the benefits of democracy, while also alleviating the workload of appellate court justices, potentially extending their tenure.”

Elizabeth Atime

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