Supreme Court gets full complement of 21 justices

With yesterday’s inauguration of 11 Justices to the Supreme Court bench, the apex court now has the full complement of 21 justices for the first time in history.

Section 230 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution stipulates that  “The Supreme Court of Nigeria shall consist of such number of Justices not exceeding 21 as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

Those who took their oath of office yesterday are: Justice Haruna Tsammani; Justice Stephen Jonah Adah; Justice Jummai Sankey; Justice Chidiebere Nwaoma Uwa; Justice Chioma Egondu Nwosu-Iheme, Justice Moore Aseimo A. Adumein and Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya.

Others include: Justice Habeeb Adewale O. Abiru; Justice Jamilu Yammama Tukur; Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar and Justice Mohammed Baba Idris.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola urged the new entrants to see themselves as representatives of God on earth and that they will give account of their stewardship to God one day.

He urged them to only be guided by the Construction and existing laws and not be blinded by self-interest or extraneous influences in their decisions.

Justice Ariwoola told them that having been on the bench and criticised before, they should expect criticism and verbal assaults from losing parties in cases they preside over.

He expressed delight that under his watch, the Supreme Court broke the jinx of attaining its full complement of 21 Justices.

The said: “Your moral uprightness, integrity and respect for the Constitution and other extant laws in operation, must be unwavering and unassailable.

“At this level of adjudication, Your Lordships should begin to see yourselves as the representatives of the Almighty God on earth, because any judgment given at this level, can only be upturned in heaven.

“You must not, therefore, allow your personal ambition or any extraneous considerations to becloud your sense of judgment.

“Your interactions with people of unenviable inclinations and pedigree, if any, must be halted forthwith. Let your conscience guide and filter every thought that traverses your mind from this moment.

“I have no doubt that you may have, at one time or the other, been confronted with some forms of criticisms or verbal assaults by litigants who have lost their cases.

“I want to assure you that more of such will come your way, especially as you now assume duties in the final court of the land, where appellants’ expectations are often very high and infectious.

“There is no way you can please human beings, especially litigants. That is what it is! | am, however, making it abundantly clear to your Lordships, that the easiest way to fail in life is by trying to please everyone

“The only deity you can fear, is the Almighty God. Once your judgment is in consonance with what God expects from you, and is also in accordance with the Constitution, you should consider yourself the happiest and freest person on earth.

“Aside that, every other thing you hear around you, is mere noise or baseless agitation, which will naturally pale into insignificance when the chips are down.

“Your elevation to the Supreme Court bench is obviously in recognition of your astuteness and evident passion for hard work, which is the hallmark of judicial excellence.

“We are, indeed, very proud of your accomplishments thus far and fervently believe you  will bring the opulent experience and dexterity to bear on your adjudication at the apex court.”

On the significance of the occasion, the CJN said: “This is, indeed, an epoch-making ceremony. I am very much exhilarated to, not only Witness it, but also be privileged to administer the oath on these 11 eminent Supreme Court Justices.

“It is a memory I will cherish all my life, because it is unprecedented in the annals of the Nigerian Supreme Court. Like I stated in my 2023/2024 legal year speech, precisely on Monday, the 27th day of December, 2023, the inability of the court to meet up the statutory full complement of 21 Justices had lingered on for too long, thus appearing to be like a jinx.

“I thereafter made a categorical pledge that before I finish my tenure as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, I would, by the special grace of God, do everything within my ability to break that jinx and get on board the well-deserved full complement of the court.

“Today, as it were, it is apparent that all that is now history; a very palatable one at that for the Nigerian Judiciary and the country at large.”


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