Justice Musa Dattijo, a retiring member of the Supreme Court, has raised concerns about the extensive powers vested in the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the deliberate delay in filling the vacant South-East slot on the apex court bench.
Dattijo expressed his apprehensions during his valedictory session in Abuja on Friday. He emphasized that the concentration of significant powers in the office of the CJN, who heads multiple judicial bodies, could lead to potential abuses.
As the chair of the National Judicial Commission (NJC), Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), National Judicial Institute (NJI), and Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), the CJN has substantial control over appointments, oversight, and the appointment of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs). Dattijo argued that such authority should not be solely held by one individual and suggested a need for reform.
Additionally, Justice Dattijo expressed concern about the deliberate failure to fill vacancies in the Supreme Court, asserting that the decision is connected to the CJN’s extensive powers. He lamented the absence of justices from the South-East and North-Central regions in the seven-man panel that heard appeals related to the presidential election.
He stressed the importance of representation from all geo-political zones for the sake of justice and transparency, highlighting the absence of justices from the South-East at the Supreme Court following the passing of Justice Chima Nweze.
Justice Dattijo’s remarks shed light on issues related to judicial oversight and bench diversity at the Supreme Court, raising important questions about the balance of power and representation within the Nigerian judiciary.