Law News
Federal high court creates Kebbi division

The Federal High Court is to create a new division in Kebbi State to bring its total number of divisions to 39, The PUNCH has learnt.

Our correspondent also learnt that the Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has initiated steps to reopen the Ikeja division of the court in Lagos State which has remained moribund since 2012.

The Federal High Court is said to have lost 15 judges to either retirement, elevation or death since 2012.

The court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over cases relating to, among many others, taxation, banking, companies, terrorism and some matters on the Exclusive List of the Constitution, has its headquarters in Abuja.

The court currently has 55 judges in 38 divisions across 35 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.

Kebbi State is the only one among the 36 states of the federation without a division of the Federal High Court.

A letter obtained by our correspondent, which was sent by Justice Auta to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, seeking permission to commence the appointment of 25 new judges, read in part, “In this regard, there is the compelling need to fill the existing gap and vacancies occasioned by the circumstances enumerated above i.e. retirement, elevation and death.

“It is also intended to create a division of the court in Kebbi State, while some divisons with capacity to take two judges are currently managing with only one judge.

“I also have the intention to reopen the Ikeja Judicial Division within this legal year. Currently the strength of the Federal High Court is 55 honourable judges serving in about 38 Federal High Court bench.”

The letter by Auta dated November 24, 2014 was attached to the Chief Judge’s response to this newspaper’s request for information on the ongoing process of appointing new judges for the Federal High Court.

The information sought by this newspaper was released in part, though it revealed that 613 lawyers were in the race to fill in the 25 vacant positions on the Federal High Court bench.

The Ikeja Division has not got another judge since the then presiding judge, Justice Stephen Adah, was elevated to the Court of Appeal in November 2012.

Judges are to be posted to both divisions of the court in Kebbi State and Ikeja as well as to other places where they are needed as soon as the ongoing appointment process is concluded.

The process of appointment recently shifted from the Federal High Court to the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

The PUNCH had on May 15, 2015 exclusively reported that the Federal High Court had commenced the process of appointing 25 judges.

Our correspondent learnt from sources that were familiar with the appointment process that Justice Auta was expected to conduct an interview to shortlist and forward 100 names among the 613 nominees to the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

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