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Sunday, 22 September 2019

Atiku V Buhari: Matters Arising On The Constitution Of The Supreme Court Panel

Atiku V Buhari: Matters Arising On The Constitution Of The Supreme Court Panel

Following the rejection of the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and her presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, it is very likely that the case may be headed for the Supreme Court for final determination.

The Supreme Court is the apex court in Nigeria. The Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria are members of theSupreme Court of Nigeria headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The Justices are often recommended by the National Judicial Council to the President of Nigeria, who will send the names to the Senate for confirmation.Currently, there are 16 Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

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Currently, the Justices of the Supreme Court in their order of seniority are: Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; Bode Rhodes-Vivour; Mary Odili; Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta; Olukayode Ariwoola; Musa Datijo Muhammad; Kumai Bayang Akaahs; Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo.

Others are: Chima Centus Nweze; John Inyang Okoro; Kudirat Kekere-Ekun; Chima Centus Nweze and John Inyang Okoro.

If the presidential appeal enters the Supreme Court as is expected that it will, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammad Tanko shall by law empanel a seven-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court. Often and by tradition except in very rare circumstances the seven-man panel of justices are chosen by their order of seniority and shall be headed by the CJN except he decides to recuse himself as was the case by Damley Alexander in the case of Awolowo vs Shagari.

Will the Supreme Court abide by the age-long tradition of constituting a panel of seven most senior Supreme Court judges or depart from this age-long tradition and infuse into the panel the old and fresh wines. Another consideration given in such consideration is zonal representation.

Already there are speculations that the recent screening of list of new judges for elevation as Supreme Court justices were being hurriedly done so as to inject some of the newly elevated justices into the panel of seven.

The judges listed for promotion are Justices Garba Mohammade, Abdu Aboki and C. Oseji some of whom were the judges that presided over the presidential election petition at the Apeal Tribunal. Others are Justices Tijani Abubakar, Rita Pemu , Ridwan Abdulahi , Ok Oyewole, Adaongban Mensem, Adamu Ajuro, Emmanuel Agim, Biobele Georgewill and Hellen Ogunwumiju.

It remains doubtful if the CJN will be insensitive to draft the same Justices of the Appeal Court who already decided on the case to form the Supreme Court Panel.

In the event that the Supreme Court abides by tradition as would be expected , here are the men whose final judgment will be final. What they do or didn’t do will have a ramification effect on the polity.

READ ALSO:      Atiku to File 70-Point Grounds of Appeal at Supreme Court Monday

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