By HENRY UMORU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
HUMAN rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), yesterday, kicked against the existing judicial structure in the country where there is only one Supreme Court , saying the development was greatly contributing to the slow dispensation of justice.
He attributed the high number of inmates in Nigerian prisons as well as slow treatment of cases in courts to the existence of one Supreme Court at the centre, saying such practice must stop in line with modern practices.
Presenting a position paper before the National Conference Committee on Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Ozekhome urged members of the committee to fashion out a new constitution for the country, saying states should be allowed to have hierarchy of law courts, from the lowest to the highest as it is with the Federal Government.
He reasoned that the present Supreme Court had more than it can chew and so, cases must be devolved to states if the country needs quick dispensation of justice.
He also said there was urgent need for the country to considerably increase the number of justices in the country even as he canvassed that judges be allowed to voluntarily retire from service or the retirement age increases to 80 years against the existing 70. “Retirement age for judges must be made to be voluntary or the ceiling is put at 80 against the present 70 years, “he insisted.
Barrister Ozhekome also said that the offices of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice be separated because under the current arrangement, Attorneys-General had become more of politicians.
Chief Ozhekome also urged the committee to recommend that the outcome of the conference be subjected to a referendum, saying with this the president could initiate an executive bill to the National Assemble for a new constitution for the country.