The Nigerian Senate on Thursday confirmed the appointment of 11 Supreme Court justices recommended by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fill existing vacancies on the apex court’s bench. The confirmation happened barely 24 hours after the nominations were received and read on the floor of the Senate. On the other hand, it was sweet victory
The Nigerian Senate on Thursday confirmed the appointment of 11 Supreme Court justices recommended by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fill existing vacancies on the apex court’s bench. The confirmation happened barely 24 hours after the nominations were received and read on the floor of the Senate.
On the other hand, it was sweet victory for Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu state as the Supreme Court on Friday affirmed his election insisting his challenger failed to substantiate his claim of electoral fraud against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Mr Mbah.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters screened the Justices and their confirmation followed the consideration and adoption of a report by the Committee. Chairman of the committee, Senator Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), submitted the report of the screening before their confirmation.
Senator Monguno said his committee received the curriculum vitae of the nominees and invited them for the exercise. He explained that during the screening, the justices demonstrated competence of handling the dispensation of justice.
According to him, the nomination and appointment satisfied the constitutional provision of section 231 (3), of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which states that an individual needs 15 years experience on the bar to be qualified for the Supreme Court justice seat.
Senator Monguno said there were no petitions or criminal records against the nominees. He said the committee members were satisfied with the nomination of the justices and, therefore, recommended their confirmation.
Senator Binos Yaroe (PDP, Adamawa South) seconded the motion that the nominees be confirmed. The Deputy Senate President, Senator Barau Jibrin, commended the committee for successfully conducting the screening.
He called on the lawmakers to support the confirmation of the nominees. Senator Simon Lalong (APC, Plateau South) also commended the committee for conducting the screening and urged the Senate to confirm their appointments.
Senator Ahmed Lawan, the immediate past senate president, called on the National Assembly and the Presidency to improve the funding of the judiciary.
“The time has come for both the legislature and the executive to give the Judiciary more financial attention, we should give them resources. I know we can do something, let us give them more resources so that we can hold them accountable when they do not perform,” Senator Lawan stressed.
Senator Seriake Dickson (PDP, Bayelsa) urged that in the event of subsequent vacancies, a provision for their immediate replacement should be made.
His word: “Anytime these vacancies occur, they should be filled immediately.I want to draw attention of the President. There shouldn’t be a delay so that we don’t become a laughing stock.”
The Senate Leader, Senator Michael Bamidele Opeyemi (APC, Ekiti -Central), said it was important that those who are next in line be screened and appointed immediately as the vacancies occur at the apex court.
Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia-North) stressed that the funds allocated to the Supreme Court in the 2024 budget be reviewed upwards to ensure its effectiveness.
“The Senate should look at the budget of the judiciary because even the state courts are in a mess. How can they give good justice? This is not the way it was before; we were doing better”, he stressed.
The nominees confirmed are Justice Haruna Tsammani (Northeast), who chaired the Presidential Election Petition Court, Justice Moore Adumein (South-South), Justice Jummai Sankey (North-central), Justice Chidiebere Uwa (South-east); and Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme (South-east)
Others are Justice Obande Ogbuinya (South-East), Justice Stephen Adah (North-Central), Justice Habeeb Abiru (South-West), Justice Jamilu Tukur (Northwest), Justice Abubakar Umar (Northwest) and Justice Mohammed Idris (North-Central).
Supreme Court Affirms Governor Mbah’s Victory as Enugu Governor
Meanwhile, it was sweet victory for Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu state as the Supreme Court on Friday affirmed his election insisting his challenger failed to substantiate his claim of electoral fraud against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Mr Mbah.
Justice Mohammed Garba, in the lead judgment, held that the appellants failed to prove their case and proceeded to uphold the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which equally affirmed the decision of the trial tribunal, dismissing the petition by the LP and Edeoga.
The judgement, delivered by a five-member panel of the court led by Justice John Okoro .
INEC, had declared Mr. Mbah as winner of the Enugu state governorship election with 160,895 votes.
Mr. Edeoga of the LP came second with 157,552 votes, while Mr. Frank Nweke of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) polled 17,983 votes to place third.
Dissatisfied with the declaration of the electoral body,the LP candidate sued Mr Mbah, pleading with the Enugu State governorship election petition tribunal to upturn the governor’s victory.
But in the lead judgement of the Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Mohammed Garba said Mr. Edeoga failed to substantiate his claim of electoral fraud against the electoral commission, INEC, and Mr. Mbah.
Consequently, Justice Garba affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which equally upheld the verdict of the tribunal, dismissing Mr Edeoga’s petition.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal in Lagos had in November, dismissed three issues raised by Mr. Edeoga against Mr. Mbah.
The panel, led by Justice Tani Yusuf-Hassan, concluded that the Labour Party (LP) and its governorship candidate failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that Mr Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not qualified to contest the election.
Regarding the allegation of over-voting, Justice Yusuf – Hassan said in her lead judgement that voters’ registers were not presented before the lower tribunal.
She, therefore, ruled that the appeal failed because the petitioners failed to submit the voters’ registers for the disputed areas to substantiate the over-voting allegation.
The court also determined that the witnesses presented by the Labour Party did not sufficiently prove the existence of over-voting in the governorship election.
Consequently, the court dismissed the case for lacking in merit and upheld the judgement of the election tribunal, which had earlier affirmed INEC’s declaration of Mr Mbah as the winner of the 18 March governorship election.
Mr. Edeoga and his party filed the petition, challenging Mr. Mbah’s victory, asking that they should be declared as winners because they polled the highest number of valid votes.
The petitioners also raised concerns about the alleged forgery of a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate by Mr Mbah.
However, the Enugu State governorship election petition tribunal ruled in favour of Mr Mbah, stating that he met the minimum requirements for the election, which include the possessing of a school certificate or its equivalent.