By G9ija

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nomination of Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju as a Justice of the Supreme Court.

She is from the Southwest and the fourth Justice from the zone to join the apex court.

The Supreme Court now has 20 Justices, the highest number in the apex court’s history.

According to Section 230 (1) of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the full complement of the Supreme Court is 21 Justices.

Also confirmed are: Justice Lawal Garba (Northwest), Justice Addu Aboki (Northwest), Justice I. M. M. Saulawa (Northwest) and Justice Adamu Jauro (Northeast).

Others are: Justice Samuel C. Oseji (Southsouth), Justice Tijjani Abubakar (Northeast) and Justice Emmanuel A. Agim (Southsouth).

The confirmation the Supreme Court Justices followed the consideration and approval of the report of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) at plenary.

The senator said his findings revealed that the appointment of the nominees satisfied the requirement of sections 230 (2) and 231 (1) and (2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which make provisions for the appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and the Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended.

He noted that upon confirmation of the appointment of the nominees by the Senate, all the geo-political zones will be represented by three or four Justices, as the case may be, “except the Northcentral Zone, which will maintain its current two Justices on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria”.

Bamidele added that the Northcentral has two Justices, unlike the other zones, due to the fact that during the selection process, the nomination from the zone was stood down by the Selection Committee for a further review of the nomination by the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

The senator noted that necessary steps were being taken to meet the full complement of the maximum number of Justices of the Supreme Court, in line with constitutional provision.

“In this regard, one more appointment from the Northcentral Zone, which is in the offing, will complete the maximum number of Justices and balance the representation across the geo-political zones,” he said.

The senator noted that the appointment of the eight Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria at one stretch was a bold step by President Muhammadu Buhari to further strengthen the Judiciary to meet up with the challenges of the 21st Century, “being the first time ever that the country will be having 20 Justices on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria”.

Currently, Opeyemi said upon confirmation, the composition of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in relation to the geopolitical zones, is as follows: Northeast (four), including the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Northwest (four); Northcentral (two); Southeast (three); Southwest (four) and Southsouth (three).

Senators, including Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central); Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North), Gabriel Suswam (Benue North East) and James Manager (Delta South), expressed satisfaction with the qualification, experience and competence of the nominees.

The Senate approved the confirmation of the Justices when it was put to voice vote by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.