These appointments bring the total number of judges in the court to 81, a significant increase that aims to address the backlog of cases the Court of Appeal faces. As the penultimate court in Nigeria’s judicial hierarchy, the Court of Appeal plays a crucial role in the country’s legal system, acting as a final court for legislative election disputes, hearing appeals from governorship election petitions tribunals across the nation, and serving as the court of first instance for adjudicating disputes arising from presidential elections.
The nine newly sworn-in judges are:
- Hannatu Azumi Laja-Balogun from Kaduna State.
- Binta Fatima Zubairu from Kaduna State.
- Peter Chudi Obiora from Anambra State.
- Okon Efreti Abang from Akwa Ibom State.
- Asma’u Musa Mainoma from the Federal Capital Territory.
- Lateef Adebayo Ganiyu from Oyo State.
- Jane Esienanwan Iyang from Cross River State.
- Hadiza Rabiu Shagari from Sokoto State.
- Paul Ahmed Bassi from Borno State.
One of the notable judges among this group is Justice Okon Abang, a seasoned jurist known for his efficient handling of criminal cases. He has received a commendation for his diligence in cases like the N3.1 billion fraud involving former Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam and the conviction of former Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) chairperson Abdulrasheed Maina for money laundering offences.
Justice Lateef Ganiyu, formerly an Oyo State High Court judge, has contributed significantly to the state’s legal development. His expertise in the Committee on Drafting of Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Oyo State in 2016 is notable.
Justice Paul Bassi, who transitioned from a prosecutorial career at Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, ICPC, to the judiciary, has presided over significant cases, such as ordering the reinstatement of a retired military officer and directing the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to pay terminal benefits to affected bank workers.
Binta Fatima Zubairu, though less publicly known, led a tribunal that affirmed the election of Bello Matawale as the governor of Zamfara State.
These newly appointed justices bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the Court of Appeal, further enhancing its capacity to address the country’s legal challenges.
In conclusion, the recent swearing-in of nine new justices at the Court of Appeal is a positive development aimed at addressing the backlog of cases and strengthening the judiciary in Nigeria. These justices bring diverse experiences and backgrounds to their roles, promising to contribute significantly to the country’s legal system.
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