CJN: Supreme Court doesn’t need 21 Justices
The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has said appointing more judges or increasing the number of courtrooms are not the solutions to the problem of delayed justice dispensation in the country.
The acting CJN said the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court would remain congested so long as the number of appeals proceeding there from the high courts was not regulated.
Justice Onnoghen also argued that it was erroneous to believe that delay at the Supreme Court was as a result of not having up to 21 Justices prescribed by the constitution.
He noted hat even the United States of America, with a higher population, had only nine Supreme Court Justices.
He argued that the current 17 Justices on the Supreme Court bench were just enough for the country, if the number of appeals proceeding to the appellate and apex courts was regulated.
Justice Onnoghen made this argument on Monday in Lagos while inaugurating the newly refurbished building of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Lagos Island.
The acting CJN said, “We always think that we can solve the problem of congestion in our courts by appointing more judges or Justices, creating more divisions of the court, because the idea is that the more you have the lesser the workload in court, but it has not been so; but it has not been proven right. It has rather been proven wrong, because the more divisions you create, the more cases get filed; the more judges and Justices you appoint, the more cases that get filed; which points to the fact that we have really not hit the nail on the head.
“The solution lies in making every appeal to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court by leave. That is where the solution lies, it doesn’t lie in multiplying the number of divisions and the judges. No. It lies in controlling the jurisdiction of the court, the quantity, the number of cases that get to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.