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Nigeria: Supreme Court Postpones Whole-Week Sittings

The CJN directed the postponement of all the sittings of the Supreme Court scheduled for the whole of next week.

Nigeria’s Supreme Court has postponed its sittings scheduled to hold for the whole of next week, from 13 to 17 November.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Akorede Lawal, confirmed this in a notification he shared with the association’s members via an official e-mail on Friday.

Mr Lawal, notifying lawyers about the development, said the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, directed the postponement of the sittings to enable the 10 judges of the Supreme Court to attend this year’s edition of All Nigeria Judges’ Conference.

“Kindly be informed that his lordship, the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon.Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON has directed the rescheduling of the sitting of the Supreme Court of Nigeria earlier scheduled to hold between the 13th and 17th November 2023.

“This is to enable Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court to attend the All Nigeria Judges’ Conference billed to hold between the 13th and 17th November 2023.

“The Supreme Court’s Registry will, in due time, communicate new dates to affected parties and their counsel,”‘ the notification shared with PREMIUM TIMES read.

Supreme Court’s hearing dates, except when it concerns time-bound election-related cases, are hard to come by for lawyers and litigants. There are instances when cases were adjourned for a full 12-month calendar year.

The court has yet to announce new dates for appeals affected by the latest postponement of scheduled sittings.

The All Nigeria Judges’ Conference that caused the disruption of the schedule of the court is an annual event that brings judges from across the hierarchy of Nigerian courts together to deliberate on important issues concerning the judiciary.

During the event which is usually attended by political leaders and lawyers, judges are able to exchange ideas on a broad spectrum of issues among themselves and experts in various fields of law.

Previous editions of the event were attended by either the Nigerian president or the vice president.

The event usually takes place at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja.

The NJI, a body whose governing board is chaired by the CJN, is saddled with the task of equipping judges and magistrates with skills and knowledge of new trends in the law and justice administration.

The announcement of the postponement of the sittings of the Supreme Court comes about two weeks after a retiring justice of the court, Dattijo Muhammad, lamented the dwindling number of justices and lopsided composition of the bench of the court.

Currently, the court has 10 justices, the lowest it has ever dropped to, and far from the 21 that the Nigerian constitution provides as the full complement of the court’s bench.

The shortage in the number of justices of the court increases the workload for the serving justices and further slows down the pace of the justice delivery process of the court.

On the lopsided composition of the court, the South-east region and the North-central region, which Mr Muhammad hails from, are currently not represented on the Supreme Court bench.

In his sober reflection over how the judiciary had lost its integrity and prestige over the years, with rampant corruption and malfeasances often reported about the judiciary institutions, he said the public confidence in the Nigerian courts had never sunk to the level it now found itself.

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