Reps pass bill to increase Appeal Court judges 

A Bill seeking to amend the Court of Appeal Act, by increasing the number of its judges from 90 to 150 has scaled second reading on floor of the House of Representatives. 

With the proposal and if subsequently enacted, the lawmakers also wanted the appointment of a minimum of six justices in each judicial division of the Court of Appeal for speedy and efficient dispensation of justice.

Sponsored by Hon. Patrick Umoh representing Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara federal constituency of Akwa Ibom State is “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 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”.

Presenting its general principles, 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, adding that under the 2013 amendment of the Act, the number of justices was changed to 90.

“The number of justices provides by the law has become inadequate given the recent creation of the new division of the Court- Kano, Gombe, Akwa, Asaba, and more. There is a high increase in the volume of cases attended to by the Court, which of course has necessitates the creation of the new divisions.

“This implies increases work load with fewer hands, which therefore affects quick dispensation at the appellate level. Most of the divisions of the Court do not have up to six justices, implying that two panels of the Court cannot sit simultaneously to attend to cases, which therefore stall expeditious and timeous hearing and disposition of cases.

“As a matter of fact, judicial divisions of the Court with 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”, he said, adding that it is necessary to note that it is the same inadequate pool of justices of Court of Appeal that are drawn to sit in Election Appeal Tribunals.