The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended four justices of the court of appeal for elevation to the supreme court.
In a statement on Friday signed by Soji Oye, NJC’s director of information, the council said the recommendation was made during its second virtual meeting held on August 11 and 12, led by Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria.
The recommended justices are Tijjani Abubakar, representing the north-east zone; Mohammed L. Garba from the north-west zone; Abdu Aboki from the north-west zone and Mohammed M. Saulawa, also from the north-west zone.
Garba was the judge who led the five-man presidential election petition tribunal which heard the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atiku Abubakar, its presidential candidate, challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2019 poll.
Currently, the apex court has a total number of 12 justices, as against the constitutionally required number of 21 at maximum.
Oye said the 12 justices, including Ibrahim Muhammad, the chief justice of Nigeria, comprised two from north-central, one from the north-east, one from the north-west, three from the south-east, one from the south-south and three from the south-west.
There has been a steady decline in the number of supreme court justices causing a backlog of cases within the court’s docket.
In October 2019, the NJC had recommended Adamu Jauro, Emmanuel A. Agim, Samuel C. Oseji, and Helen M. Ogunwumiju, all appeal court justices, for appointment as justices of the apex court.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to forward the names of the justices to the senate for confirmation as required by section 231(2) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
With the addition of four newly recommended judges, there are now eight justices awaiting confirmation as supreme court justices.