Buhari speech on #EndSARS
Politics & Policy

Why Buhari proposed 4 Supreme Court Justices from North

  • …role of Politics in SC appointments
  • …appoints 4 new Justices
  • …Buhari’s emerging Supreme Court

Enugu Metro checks show that politics, not nepotism, influenced yesterday’s approval of four Supreme Court Justices by President Buhari.

The four justices approved by the President in yesterday 14 August appointments are replacements for justices that left the Court.

Before the appointments, the court had only 12 of its 16-member Justices left to sit.

Buhari’s new appointees are Mohammed Garba(North West), Tijani Abubakar(North East), Abdu Aboki(North West), and Mohammed M. Saulawa(North West).

The four justices that they are replacing are Kumai Akaahs(North-West), Amiru Sanusi(North-West), Paul Adamu Galunje(North-East), and Sidi Dauda Bage(North-Central).

Except for Justice Bage who left the Court to become Emir of Lafia, the other three retired on reaching mandatory age of 70 years.

Some Nigerian newspaper headlines had suggested nepotism in the appointments, because all are from the northern part of the country.

Politics May Have Played a Part

Politics may have played a part as the President had four different names waiting for approval as Supreme Court Justices

The Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) had in October 2019 recommended four Justices for approval to move to the Supreme Court.

They include Justices Adamu Jauro (North-East); Emmanuel Agim (South-South); C. Oseji, (South-South) and Helen Ogunwumiju, (South-West).

The list was ignored by the President, forcing NJC to consider and forward a different set of names this time.

All current Justices of the Supreme Court are appointees of politicians in this Third Republic.

President Olusegun appointed the current Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammad.

Goodluck Jonathan appointed eight Justices – Rhodes-Vivour, Ngwuta, Odili, Ariwoola, Datijo Muhammad, Kekere-Ekun, Inyang Okoro, and Centus Nweze.

With his approval of four new justices, President Buhari has so far appointed a total of seven justices – all of them from the North.

The Court now has Justices from North Central(2), North East(3), North West(4), South East(2), South South (2) and South West(3).

S/NAppointedNamePositionSexAgeRegion
 12006Ibrahim Tanko MuhammadChief JusticeMale67North East
 22010Bode Rhodes-VivourAssociateMale69South West
 32011Nwali Sylvester NgwutaAssociateMale69South East
 42011Mary Ukaego Peter-OdiliAssociateFemale68South South
 52011Olukayode AriwoolaAssociateMale62South West
 62012Musa Datijo MuhammadAssociateMale67North Central
 72013Kudirat M. O. Kekere-EkunAssociateFemale62South West
 82013John Inyang OkoroAssociateMale61South South
 92014Chima Centus NwezeAssociateMale62South East
 102016Amina Adamu AugieAssociateFemale67North West
 112016Ejembi EkoAssociateMale68North Central
 122018Uwani Musa Aba AjiAssociateFemale64North East
 132020Mohammed GarbaAssociateMale62North West
 142020Tijani AbubakarAssociateMale?North East
 152020Abdu AbokiAssociateMale?North West
 162020Mohammed M. SaulawaAssociateMale?North West

Buhari’s Supreme Court in the Making

President Muhammadu Buhari will have appointed 11 of the 16-member Supreme Court Justices when he leaves office in 2023,

Yesterday’s approval means that he has now appointed seven Justices, and has an opportunity to appoint four more.

The four will replace Justices Bode Rhodes-Vivour (South West) and Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta(South East) who will both retire in 2021

In 2022, he will appoint two more as Justices Mary Odili, and Ejembi Eko, will both retire.

By next year, 2021, he will beat President Jonathan’s record of eight Supreme Court appointments.

Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad will outlast President Buhari and will also swear in a new President in 2023 before retiring.

He will retire in December 2023.

Today, Buhari is one appointee short of President Jonathan’s eight Supreme Court appointments before the former President  left in 2015.

However, Buahari’s successor will appoint even more – all remaining 12 Justices currently sitting who are set to retire after 2023.