Reps Pass Bill To Increase Court of Appeal Judges from 90 to 150

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

The House also wants the appointment of a minimum of six justices in every Judicial division of the Court of Appeal for speedy and efficient justice delivery.

The bill, sponsored by Hon. Dr. Patrick Umoh representing Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara federal constituency of Akwa Ibom state was passed at the plenary presided 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 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, Hon. Um oh explained that by the Court of Appeal (Amendment) Act 2005, the number of justices of the Court including it’s 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 provides 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 Um oh, “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”

The lawmaker noted that “Most of the divisions of the Court so 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.”

“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.”

“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, thereby compounding delay in justice delivery”, he argued.

He said the Act, when amended will “Increase the quality and soundness of Judicial decisions by making available more hands in adjudication process at the appellate level.”

It will also confer on citizens greater access to justice delivery and dividends of democracy as well as decrease the workload on the shoulders of the justices of the appellate court and thereby extend their life expectancy.