Senate approves 100 judges for Fed High Court
On May 17, 2012 · In News

By Henry Umoru & Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, approved the increase of judges of the Federal High Court from 70 to 100.

This came as the Bill for an Act to amend the Federal High Court Act 2005 (Amendment) Bill, 2012 passed the third reading.

The resolution of the Senate followed the Bill which was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in January. The Bill sought to increase the number of judges of the Federal High Court from 70 to 100.

After extensive deliberations by the senators, it was then passed to the second reading in March and subsequently referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative action.

Speaking yesterday when he submitted the report before the Senate, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Umaru Dahiru, PDP, Sokoto, said the Federal High Court currently had 34 divisions spread across the country and the Federal Capital Territory, while two additional divisions had been created in Kebbi and Taraba States, but were yet to take off due to lack of judges.

According to the report, large number of awaiting cases was blamed on shortage of the number of judges.

It also noted that each division of the Court at the state level, except Lagos and Port Harcourt, was presided over by two judges.

Dahiru, who noted that with democracy in place, the courts were burdened with pre-electoral matters, which usually resulted into overburdening of the judges and often times affected their health. He said due to insufficient number of judges, there were a good number of cases pending before various divisions of the court.

He said available statistics showed that Abuja division had about 2,000 pending cases, with two judges to preside over them.

Dahiru said: ‘’Lagos division has about 15,000 cases to be presided over by eight judges and Port-Harcourt division has 15,000 cases pending before it.”

According to Dahiru, after very wide consultations during the public hearing from stakeholders, it was agreed that the number be further reviewed upward to 120.

He said: ‘’The committee amended clause 1 subsection (2) (b) of the Bill by inserting the phrase, ‘’not less than 120’’ before the figure ‘’70’’ for the clause to read as follows: “No less than 120 judges of the Federal High Court.”

During discussions on the report, some senators, however, argued that there was no need to increase the number above what the bill was asking for, even as they said that whenever there was the need for an increment, the National Assembly will always be available to amend it.

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