False! Nigeria does not have 35 Court of Appeal Judges

On April 7, 2024, special aide to the flag bearer for the National Democratic Congress, Joyce Bawah Motgtari claimed that Nigeria has fewer Court of Appeal Judges compared to Ghana.

Her claim follows the announcement that the president has submitted 20 names to the Judicial Council to be appointed to the Court of Appeal. The announcement has raised concerns among the public about the discretionary powers granted to the president by the Constitution.

Fact-Check Ghana has verified this claim and presents the findings.

Claim: “How can any individual leader, as in Akufo Addo appoint twenty one (21) additional Court of Appeal judges, bringing the total number of Court of Appeal Judges in Ghana to fifty one(51). Most of these judges may have absolutely nothing to do. This constitutes an abuse of presidential power and discretion. Even in neighboring Nigeria, they have thirty five (35) Court of Appeal Judges, five judges for each district. How can Ghana have fifty-one (51) Court of Appeal justices?”

Verdict: False

Explanation: Since President Akufo-Addo came into office, he has nominated and sworn into office several judges to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court. In April 2018, President Akufo-Addo swore into office five Appeal Court Judges and in December 2019, the president swore in 11 newly appointed Court of Appeal Judges. Six Justices were sworn into office in August 2020, and 15 new judges were sworn in by the President in December 2022.

It is noteworthy that some of the existing Appeal Cort Justices were nominated to the Supreme Court. For instance, in November 2023, the president nominated 3 Appeal Court Judges to the Supreme Court.

The current number of Court of Appeal Judges in Ghana, according to the official website of the Judicial Services is 33.

Therefore, if the 20 nominated persons are appointed, the total number of appeal court judges will be 53.

Number of Appeal Court Judges in Nigeria

The Nigerian Court of Appeal has 21 Divisions. Each division has a presiding judge and at least 2 appeal court judges. Port Harcourt division of the appeal court has 1 presiding judge and 3 other justices. In Abuja, there is 1 presiding judge and 5 other justices of the court of appeal.

In total, there are currently 67 Court of Appeal Judges in Nigeria, according to the official website of the Nigerian Court of Appeal. This makes the claim by Joyce Bawa Mogtari that Nigeria has 35 Court of Appeal Judges false.

Fact-Check Ghana’s sources in Nigeria also disclosed that Appeal Court Judges in Nigeria have not been assigned to specific districts. They can all move to different states to preside over a case depending on the urgency of the case and then move back to where they reside.

Therefore, the claim by Joyce Bawah Motgtari that Nigeria has a total of 35 Appeal Court Judges with five judges for each district is false.

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