Afe Babalola, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has stated that the retirement age of supreme court justices should be increased from 70 to 100.
According to Afe Babalola, justices become more experienced and wiser as they get older; hence, should be allowed to remain on the bench.
The SAN made this call on Wednesday, April 14, at the virtual launch of books; in honour of Bode Rhodes-Vivour, a retired supreme court justice.
“There is urgent need for reform of our judicial system. This is with particular regards to the age of judges; most especially those at the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement signed by Tunde Olofintila, director, corporate information, Afe Babalola University (ABUAD).
“Experience has shown that a person becomes wiser and more experienced as he advances in age. Under our judicial system today, Justice Rhodes-Vivour is retiring at the age of 70 when he has not shown any sign of physical weakness; and when Nigeria would have benefitted more from his wealth of wisdom, insight, and experience.
“A brief look at other countries shows that appointment to the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment. There is no age limit for a justice of the Supreme Court to retire. Often times, they stay as long as they probably can.
“In fact, many die while in office. But those who opt for retirement, the average age is 78 years. The average retirement age has grown a whopping 103 years in other climes.”
The chancellor of Afe Babalola University also advocated that retiring judges should be allowed to practice law.
“Even, if judges are not allowed to return to full practice, there should be a measure of participation in law practice; that will ensure their relevance in the nation’s development of law,” he said.
“I suggest that Nigeria should adopt the quasi-restrictive style; which is in operation in the U.S. whereby a sitting judge may recuse himself in the case of conflict of interest; or allow retiring judges to prepare and draft pleadings, motions, and appellate briefs.”
Afe Babalola said the position of the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) should not be based on promotion but strictly on merit.