Published On: Sun, Jan 22nd, 2017

Why we ‘ll give S’Court, Appeal Court full complement of judges –FG

Lai MohammedThe Federal Government, at the weekend assured that both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal would get their full complement of judges.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who gave the assurance on Saturday night in Abuja said the federal Government was committed to do that to ensure quick dispensation of justice.

But Belgore did not expatiate on how the Federal Government intended to ensure full complement for the appellate courts particularly when the appointment process is largely handled by the judiciary.

He also did not expatiate what he meant by the full complement particularly when the supreme Court has never had more than 17 justices even though the 1999 Constitution allows 21 justices.

Lai Mohammed spoke at the 80th birthday celebration of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alfa Modibbo Belgore.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the minister represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event which was also attended by the Senate President Bukola Saraki and many other dignitaries.

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In an interview with journalists, the minister said that the three arms of government were working in unison to reform the judiciary for optimal performance.

“I want to say this is the new dawn of collaboration and co-operation with the executive and legislative arms of government.

“On our own part as government, we will ensure that we give both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal the full complement of judges.

“We will ensure that the Federal High Court is also adequately given enough judges to ensure that the quality of justice would be better and faster,” he said.

The minister said that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, had initiated some reforms which would ensure better delivery of justice

He said the reforms were in line with the position of government to ensure that the judiciary truly remains the last hope of the common man.

Mr. Mohammed said the Acting Chief Justice was also working closely with government to put through some legislative and judicial proceedings that would result in faster delivery of justice.

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Speaking on the celebrator, the minister said he has known Mr. Belgore for over 30 years and described him as “a man who is very unique and who has a good knowledge of Nigeria.”

“One year, I travelled with him from Mecca to Medina and we were in the same car in the journey of about four hours.

“Within the four hours, I learnt more about the history of Nigeria than I had learnt in any textbook.

“When you see a man like that who was privileged to have served Nigeria in many capacities and who has mentored many people and he is still alive today we can all tap from his wealth of experience,’’ he said.

Born on January 17, 1937, in Kwara State into royalty, Mr. Belgore’s early schooling was completed in Nigeria while he received his professional training at the Inns Court School of Law, London, and the Society of the Inner Temple.

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He was called to both the English and Nigeria Bar in 1964 and upon his return home, he was appointed a Magistrate on July 3, same year.

In 1971, Mr. Belgore was elected President of the Magistrates Association of Nigeria and on July 2, 1973, he was appointed Acting High Court Judge and confirmed a year after.

He was appointed the Chief Judge of Plateau State in 1977 and two years after, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal.

Mr. Belgore was appointed into the Supreme Court bench in 1986 and he rose to the pinnacle of his career on June 12, 2006, with his appointment as the CJN.

He retired as Chief Justice on January 17 2007 when he attained the mandatory retirement age of 70.

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