23 lawyers including 7 SANs jostle for Supreme Court bench

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

No fewer than 23 lawyers, including seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and two women, have applied for the position of Justices of the Supreme Court.

The applicants who are spread across five geopolitical zones, according to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), will be considered by the Federal Judicial Service Commission in the next round of appointments to the apex court bench.

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There are currently 16 justices on the Supreme Court bench, out of a maximum of 21, with some of them expected to retire soon.

Traditionally, only Court of Appeal Justices were appointed to the Supreme Court. The last of the only two lawyers who made the apex court bench was then Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Augustine Nnamani in 1979.

However, the Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN), Justice Ibrahim Mohamed had in a letter on January 19, 2022, included lawyers among those to be considered as Justices of the Supreme Court.

The CJN’s proposal followed years of mounting pressure by stakeholders, particularly the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), for its members and distinguished academics to be appointed to the topmost echelon of the nation’s judiciary.

In the CJN’s offer, apart from the Southeast which will get two slots, and the Northeast which is excluded, the other zones will get one slot each.

The body of lawyers said it had followed up on the CJN’s letter by issuing a notice on February 7, requesting members of the bar to forward their expressions of interest to the vacancies.

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In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary Dr Rapulu Nduka, the NBA has called for public reactions to the listed aspirants.

The statement said its Judiciary Committee chaired by Dr. Babatunde Ajibade (SAN) had received expressions of interest from 23 lawyers and urged the public to send in petitions where necessary.

The 23 aspirants are Mr Abugu Oromafunu (SAN), Mr Achara Ezekwesiri, Mr. Ademi-Akpeto Awolowo and Mrs Joy Okungbowa (SAN).

Others are: Mr. Mahmud Adesina (SAN), Mr. Adolor Onorieukuhakpo, Mr. Adelekan Ajayi, Mr. Ayoola Akande, Mr Ademola Alabi, Mr. Nuraddeen Ayagi, Mrs. Miannaya Essien (SAN), Mr. Udochukwu Ezeani, Mr. Chukwugekwu Ezenwa (SAN) and Mr. Omokhuwa Giwa.

The remaining are Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), Mr. Enya Nwocha, Mr. Edwin Obiorah (SAN), Mr. Ogbemudia Omoregie, Mr. Itoyah Otaru (SAN), Mr. Ujah Oyiwona, Mr. Stanley Princewill, Mr. Salisu Shuaibu, and Mr. Kadir Temim.

Meanwhile, Ajibade said the NBA was in commitment to ensuring that the process for the appointment was made more transparent and only persons of appropriate character were appointed to the bench, that the NBA published the list.

“The NBA, consequently, requests that members of the bar and the general public who know of any reason why the aspirants should not be considered for appointment to the Supreme Court bench, should forward a petition stating their reasons.

“The petition should be received at the National Secretariat of the NBA on or before February 25 in hard copy or by email addressed to [email protected],” he said

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