From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) has kicked against calls by some stakeholders to increase the retirement age of judges and make them life benchers.
The body rejected the proposal at the valedictory court session of the Supreme Court in honour of Justice Ejembi Eko who retired from the bench after clocking the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.
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Thompson Okpoko,(SAN), who spoke on behalf of BOSAN, said “although this suggestion looks attractive, especially against the backdrop of frequent retirement in recent years of justices, who look very well and strong at their retirement age.
“These suggestions are not feasible for now as our country is not developed and matured enough to adopt the retirement age of justices of the U.S.,” he said.
This is because the society and social setup of the U.S. are not the same as the society and social setup of Nigeria where our justices serve.
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“American judges have full complements of highly trained qualified and efficient personal staff, who provide assistance to the justices in real-time. Personal staff are appointed on the basis of competence and efficiency’’.
The member of the inner bar further explained that, our own system has not developed to that stage. There is no provision in place for providing each justice of this supreme court, with a full complement of such personal staff to assist their lordships.
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“How many special consultants and researchers do we have in place? The facilities are simply not in the Nigeria court system.
It is, therefore, not wise to consider increasing the retirement age of our serving justices for now. We do not have to adapt to our country, a retirement age suitable for the USA but unsuitable for our country’’.
Chief Afe Babalola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had, in April 2021, advocated for the retirement age of supreme court justices to be increased from 70 to 100.
Meanwhile, speaking at the ceremony, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, described Eko as a quintessential judicial officer, who not only excelled in his career but also in the development of the nation and humanity.
“He is a thoroughbred personality whose name has become a recurring decimal in the annals of the Nigerian Judiciary, ostensibly for his robust scholarly disposition and astounding erudition.
“He is, no doubt, a rare gem and unblemished specimen of humility and piety, his proficiency in the dispensation of justice, which is firmly rooted in his mastery of law, stands him out as a man of dignity and distinction.”
“In everything he does, he endeavours to leave a mark that hoists the banner of integrity and honesty,” the CJN said.