ABUJA – The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, on Monday flayed calls by some stakeholders that the age of retirement of judicial officers at the appellate level ought to be reviewed upwards.
Speaking at a valedictory session in honour of Justice Ejembi Eko, who retired on May 23 from the Supreme Court bench, Chief Thompson Okpoko, on behalf of the SANs said Nigeria is under developed and immature for upward review of retirement age of Supreme Court Justices or appointing them as life benchers as in the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
“Although this suggestion looks attractive especially against the back drop of frequent retirements of justices in recent years, who look very well and strong, at their retirement age, it is not feasible for now as our country is not developed and matured enough to adopt the retirement age of Justices of the USA.
“This is because the society and social set up of the US is not the same as the society and social set up of Nigeria where our justices serve” Okpoko stated.
Okpoko posited that “in the USA, a Justice of the Supreme Court does not think of power outage, generating sets or diesel to run generators”. He argued that American Judges have full compliments of highly trained, qualified and efficient personal staff, who provide assistance to the Justices in real time, adding that personal staff are appointed on the basis of competence and efficiency.
“Our own system has not developed to that stage. There is no provision in place for providing each Justice of this Supreme Court, a full complement of such personal staff to assist their Lordships.
How many special consultants and researchers do we have in place?
“The facilities are simply not in the Nigerian court system. It is therefore not wise to consider increasing the retirement age of our serving Justices for now. We do not have to adopt for our country, a retirement age suitable for USA but unsuitable for our country” the Body of SANs cautioned.