The Senate has passed a bill to increase the number of justices in the Court of Appeal.
The bill seeks to amend the Court of Appeal Act, 2013 to increase the number of Justices of the Court from 90 to 110. Enugu senator, Chukwuka Utazi, sponsored the legislation. The passage of the bill followed the adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. Chairman of the panel, Bamidele Opeyemi (APC, Ekiti), who presented the report, said the legislative intent of the amendment is to ensure that the court has the requisite manpower to allow cooperation of all the divisions of the court. The bill, he said, was designed to bring justice closer to litigants in line with the current reality at expediting the administration of justice.
“This is necessary in order to eliminate delay in the justice delivery systems, as it relates to the adjudicatory powers of the court,” he explained. “This proposed amendment is targeted at increasing the workload of the Court and enhancing its effective performance.”
He also informed the Senate that the bill got unanimous support from concerned ‘stakeholders’ who were at the public hearing – particularly because of its strategic relevance to the justice sector reform. He further assured that the amendment would ultimately stimulate quick dispensation of justice
Another improvement of the bill is that it seeks to integrate virtual court proceedings which have become an integral part of court proceedings.
”This also is in line with the guideline, given to courts by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, as justice will no longer be delayed,” he said.
The Senate, in the Committee of the Whole, considered the bill clause by clause after which it was passed.
The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence and, thereafter, transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.