By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJAâ€”The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, yesterday advocated for an upward review of the mandatory retirement age of justices of the Supreme Court from 70 to 75 years.
He also suggested that 70 years should be made an optional retirement age for those who do not want to continue while 75 years would be made a mandatory retirement age.
The Chief Law Officer of the Federation spoke on a day the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and a retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice James Ogenyi Ogebe called for the scrapping of application of federal character in the appointment of justices into the nationâ€™s appellate courts.
The nation, during the week, lost two brilliant, fearless and incorruptible justices of the Supreme Court owing to the mandatory retirement age for justices of the apex court pegged at 70 years.
Adokie, NBA and the Supreme Court jurist spoke yesterday at the valedictory court session organised by the Supreme Court in honour of the retiring justice of the court, Justice James Ogebe.
The Attorney-General of the Federation in a speech delivered at the occasion argued that the upward review of the retirement age for Supreme Court justices would enable the nation to get the most out of our judges at appellate level.
The NBA and Justice Ogebe on the other hand argued that the scrap of application of federal character in the appointment of justices into the appellate court would make the nationâ€™s appellate court bench to have the best materials at any given time.
According to Adokie, â€œas the National Assembly is now undertaking the review and amendment of the 1999 constitution, it has become necessary for us to use the opportunity of this valedictory session to raise the issue of the appropriate retirement age for our judges.
â€œIt has become obvious in the light of our contemporary experience and the tireless post retirement activities of several of our otherwise retired justices of the appellate courts, that the time has come for us as a nation to take a second look at the present constitutional provisions relating to the retirement age of our judges who serve on the appellate courts.
â€˜It is my recommendation that the time has come for us to consider an upward review of the retirement age for this category of judges from the present 70 years to a regime where the said 70 years should be an optional retirement age while 75 years becomes the mandatory age.
â€œI am certain that if we can adopt such a regime, we will get the most out of our judges at appellate level due to the fearlessness, candour and courage which comes with old age and which are the attributes that our judiciary needs to constantly exhibit,â€ Adoke added.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Nigerian Bar Association said that it was high time the strict adherence to the application of federal character in the appointment of justices of the appellate courts was discontinued.
According to the First Vice President of the NBA, Ikeazor Akaraiwe, who delivered the position paper of NBA at the ceremony, he said:
â€œWhile it is true that every judge, no matter how good will not get to sit on the Supreme Court bench, it is necessary to observe that strict adherence to federal character principles is robbing the bench with due respect of elevatkion of the brightest and the best to higher courts.
â€œIt took a vacancy to rise in the North Central zone which ogebe belongs to for him to be elevated after thirty ytears as a judge more than half of which was spent in the Court of Appeal.