The Senate on Thursday passed the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Act (Amendment) Bill 2016, to increase the number of judges in the High Court of the FCT from 37 to 75.
The passage followed a clause by clause consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on the bill.
The bill was sponsored by Joshua Lidani (Gombe South), and co-sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, David Umaru, and Sen. Andy Uba (PDP-Anambra South).
Presenting the report, Mr. Umaru said the amendment of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Act had become necessary in view of the fact that it had not been amended since 2003.
He said the bill sought to reduce workload of judges in the High Court of the FCT, who had been overwhelmed due to increased population, criminal activities as well as level of political and socio-economic activities.
“The passage of the bill will increase the number of judges from 37 to 75, thereby aiding quick dispensation of justice.
“We conducted a public hearing and stakeholders unanimously agreed to the increment in the number of judges for quick dispensation of justice,’’ Mr. Umaru said
The chairman said that Section 255(2b) of the 1999 Constitution (Amended) empowered the National Assembly to prescribe the number of judges for the High Court of the FCT.
Contributing to the debate, some senators said the amendment had been long-overdue in view of the increased number of criminal cases and increased population in the FCT.
They said that with current developments in the FCT, there was urgent need to increase number of judges.
They, however, advised that FCT indigenes should be given consideration in the appointment of judges of the High Court of the FCT as they had been marginalised over time.
In his remarks, the president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said the 8th National Assembly would continue to make laws to assist the judiciary in carrying out its mandate.
“We will ensure that the judiciary is given the necessary support for quick dispensation of justice,” he said.