Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says insufficient justices at the supreme court is one of the main causes of prison congestion in the country.
In a letter dated June 9 and addressed to President Mohammadu Buhari, Falana asked the president to ratify the appointment of four justices recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for elevation to the supreme court.
According to Falana, the NJC in October 2019, recommended Adamu Jauro, Emmanuel A. Agim, Samuel C. Oseji, and Helen M. Ogunwumiju, all appeal court justices, for appointment as justices of the apex court.
Falana said the president is yet to forward the names of the justices to the senate for confirmation “as required by section 231(2) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended”.
He reminded the president that the number of justices at the supreme court has depleted to 12 as against the constitutionally required number of 21 justices at maximum.
“The need to ratify and forward the names of these justices to the senate for confirmation becomes more crucial and urgent if viewed against the backdrop of the clamour for prison decongestion being championed by your excellency,” Falana said.
“Just last month, your excellency forwarded a letter to the chief justice of Nigeria requesting that measures be taken by the judiciary to decongest prisons and detention facilities across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the information at our disposal, one of the main causes of prison congestion is that the supreme court has not been able to hear and determine many criminal appeals due to lack of enough justices.
“We are persuaded that your excellency would be furthering the cause of prison decongestion by expeditiously ratifying the names recommended by the NJC and forward same to the senate for confirmation.
“In other words, the workload and the number of civil and criminal appeals pending at the supreme court would be significantly reduced if the four Justices are appointed without any further delay.
“While urging your excellency to promote the cause of justice by expeditiously ratifying the names recommended by the NJC and forward same to the senate for confirmation please accept the assurances of our highest esteem and professional regards.”