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Friday, April 23, 2021

Pressure mounts on Appeal Court divisions as judges’ vacancies hit 20

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The fast-declining number of Justices of the Court of Appeal has dropped to 70 from the 81 that it was as of July this year.

This leaves the court with 20 vacancies on its bench which statutorily has a full complement of 90 Justices.

It was gathered that a total of 11 Justices have left the bench of the appellate court since the last “interim posting” of Justices carried out by the President of the court, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, in July this year.

Between July and November, eight of the Justices of the court were elevated to the Supreme Court bench, while the three others either retired or died.

It was learnt that this has created some difficulties in seven of the 20 divisions of the court scattered in different states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

The seven affected divisions are Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Calabar, and Makurdi, which are now either grappling with increased pressure or unable to form a quorum because of shortage in judicial manpower.

The five divisions whose Justices were elevated to the Supreme Court are Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin and Makurdi.

The Benin and Makurdi divisions appear to be the worst hit as they are no longer able to form a quorum required for sittings, except at least one Justice is urgently deployed to each of them.

The Benin Division with previously five Justices is now left with two, which is short of one to make the minimum quorum required for the sitting of the Court of Appeal.

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