A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and founder of the Afe Babalola University, Aare Afe Babalola, has made a case for urgent far-reaching reforms in the country’s judicial system particularly in the area bothering on the retirement of judges and aftermath.
Babalola also reiterated the need to change the structure of the country, saying, “It is restructuring that would enable each state to curb insecurity, unemployment, poverty, defective justice system and do away with failed leaders.
The ABUAD founder spoke during a virtual unveiling in honour of the retired Supreme Court justice, Bode Rhodes-Vivour, which he chaired.
He said, “The only change that can change the country for the better and pave way for the enhancement of one Nigeria is the change in the structure of Nigeria.
“It is that change that will make politics less attractive, make each state develop at its own pace and do away with all shades and shapes of criminality. It is restructuring that will enable the parts of the country to develop their resources, provide employment, eradicate poverty and make individuals to become true Nigerians.”
Babalola said Rhodes-Vivour, who he described as a ‘judge with unquestionable integrity, character, industry and dignity,’ retired at the age of 70 when he had not shown any sign of physical weakness and when Nigeria would have benefitted more from his wealth of wisdom, insight and experience.
The ABUAD founder said, “I want to seize this opportunity to plead that we should review our justice system particularly the age of retirement of Supreme Court Judges. Experience has shown that a person becomes wiser and more experienced as he advances in age.
“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. Oftentimes, 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 78.7 years. The average retirement age has grown a whopping 103 years.”
Babalola also said retiring judges should be allowed to practice law, saying, “There is an urgent need for reform of our judicial system. 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.