By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA- The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Tuesday, said the Supreme Court was ready to speedily determine disputes that will arise from the 2019 general elections.
However, the CJN, in an address he presented shortly after he swore-in Justice Uwani Abba-Aji as a Justice of the apex court, warned that “everyone must come to the court fully prepared”, stressing that no form of delay would be accommodated.
Noting that the elevation of Justice Abba-Aji increased the total of justice on the apex court bench to 16, Justice Onnoghen lamented that the diary of the court was already full with appeals set down for hearing up to the year 2021.
The CJN thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the appointment of Justice Abba-Aji to the Supreme Court following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC.
While commending the new jurist Justice Onnoghen said: “I congratulate you on your appointment and I welcome you to the Bench of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. After 14 years of outstanding service at the Court of Appeal, where you rose to become the Presiding Justice of the Kaduna Division, it is only befitting that you are elevated to offer your services to the nation at the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“You have journeyed through thick and thin to get here. I personally was part of the panel that earlier interviewed you for elevation to this Court.
“You have worked very hard to earn elevation to the Supreme Court, but as you must know already, the reward for hard work is even more hard work.
“Sometime in September, 2018, I issued a statement to the effect that the Supreme Court diary is full with appeals set down for hearing up to the year 2021.
“Accordingly, I explained the import of the warning to mean that any matter that is assigned a date must be heard and determined one way or the other on that date.
“For appeals that may be discovered to have defects, I advised Counsel to take necessary steps to amend such defects before the due hearing date.
“This means that everyone must come to the Court fully prepared for the business of the day, including the Justices, more than anyone else.
“What that means is that there is a lot of work waiting to be done here, especially with pre-election and post-election matters that will arise from the 2019 general elections.
“Following the retirement of Hon. Mr. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi in February, 2018, the number of Justices of the Court became 16, inclusive of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“Within the year, there will be at least one more retirement which will further put pressure on the Bench considering the workload I have already outlined.
“Therefore, your elevation to the Bench of Nigeria’s apex court is timely and positive. Your work ethic and integrity are what got you here and I urge you to do even more to leave your footprints on the sands of time in this Court.
“On behalf of my Brother Justices, I whole-heartedly welcome you to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and wish you a successful time on the Bench of Nigeria’s apex court”.