A senior lawyer and counsel to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has raised concerns about the lopsided composition of justices of the Supreme Court.
He specifically cited the recent presidential election appeal involving Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Ozekhome stated that the constitution of Nigeria provides for 21 jurists to ensure balanced representation. He observed that currently, there are only ten justices, with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) not fully sitting as an administrative officer.
According to The Guardian, Ozekhome questioned the ability of the Supreme Court to perform its duties effectively with such limited numbers and called for a deeper analysis of the court’s verdict on the case, as it carries significant policy implications.
He also criticized the disregard for the technological advancements in the 2022 Electoral Act, which he believes have been undermined by the court’s decision.
Recall that a retiring justice of the Supreme Court, Musa Dattijo Muhammad, who reportedly pulled out from the seven-man panel that dismissed all the appeals that sought the removal of President Bola Tinubu from office, had accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, of abusing the powers of his office.
Speaking at a valedictory session organized in his honour by the apex court, the former judge revealed the rots in the judiciary that have continued to affect the justice delivery system in the country.
On the panel that heard the presidential election appeals by Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, Justice Muhammad, said: “To ensure justice and transparency in presidential appeals from the lower court, all geo-political zones are required to participate in the hearing.
“It is, therefore, dangerous for democracy and equity for two entire regions to be left out in the decisions that will affect the generality of Nigerians.
“This is not what our laws envisage. Although it can be posited that no one expected the sudden passing of Hon. Justice Nweze JSC, yet, it has been two years and seven months since the previous justice from South-East died, and no appointment was made.”
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