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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President

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There have been a lot of commentaries and opinions in the media recently by lawyers and interest groups giving the impression that the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria cannot be renewed. Perhaps, the commentators did not avert their minds to the provision of Section 231 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
By the provisions of Section 231 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra), the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria through the recommendation of the National Judicial Council can be extended after the expiration of the three months which an acting appointment is stipulated to last. Section 231 subsections 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 of the Constitution is reproduced here for the purpose of clarity and emphasis thus:

1    The appointment of a person to the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of such appointment by the Senate.
    
2    The appointment of a person to the office of a Justice of the Supreme Court shall be made by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of such appointment by the Senate.
    
3    A person shall not be qualified to hold the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria or a Justice of the Supreme Court, unless he is qualified to practise as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for a period of not less than fifteen years.
    
4    If the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding has resumed those functions, the President shall appoint the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.
    
5    Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, an appointment pursuant to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section shall cease to have effect after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment, and the President shall not re-appointment a person whose appointment has lapsed.
    
It is well settled in law that whole sub-paragraphs of a Section of the Constitution must be read and construed holistically in order to infer the intention of the makers of the constitution.
It follows that the National Judicial Council has the power to make a recommendation to extend the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria after the expiration of three months in an acting capacity by virtue of Section 231 when read together with subsections 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 of the Constitution.  
In conclusion, the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria can be extended after the lapse of three months contemplated by Section 231 subsection 5 of the Constitution.

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