A bill to reduce the number of cases that can get to the Supreme Court was rejected by the House of Representatives on Thursday.
The constitution alteration bill, sponsored by Luke Onofiok (PDP, Akwa Ibom), was debated and subsequently rejected at the second reading stage.
The bill intended to amend sections 233 and 234 of the 1999 Constitution.
The bill proposed that Supreme Court will determine the type of cases from the Appeal Court it will hear.
However, cases involving determination of the winner of presidential election, governorship, pre-election matters were excluded from the proposed amendment.
In his lead debate, Mr Onofiok argued that the Supreme Court is already overburdened and not fully composed.
He explained that only political cases are getting expedient hearing, while other civil and criminal cases take years to be determined.
“At the moment, the court is composed of only just 18 justices. It is these 18 justices that handle all appeals and deliver justice to the population of over 201 million Nigerians,” Mr Onofiok argued.
Speaking against the bill, Uzoma Abonta (PDP, Abia) said the bill has the potential to create more harms while curing a defect.
“We should not try to cure a defect by creating more defects. Appeal is a right, not a privilege. Telling somebody not to get to the end of litigation is not right,” Mr Abonta said.
Also speaking against the bill, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, called for ‘prudent alternatives.”
He also pleaded that the bill should be allowed to go for second reading while the Committee on Constitution amendment can look into the merit of the bill.
“We also have to juxtapose that with the need to look at other alternatives to encourage efficiency,” he added.
Mr Onofiok replying, urged the House to support the bill, stating that it will take over two years of waiting to get a date at the Supreme Court for a civil or criminal case.
However, when the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, put the bill to vote, the “nays” had it.
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