Patrick Kelechi


Daily Courier – The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria yesterday rejected calls by some stakeholders to increase the retirement age of judges and make them life benchers.

Thompson Okpoko, who represented the body of SANs, said this while delivering his speech at the valedictory session in honour of Justice Ejembi Eko, who retired having attained the age of 70.

Okpoko said while some stakeholders have called for the upward review of the retirement age for judges, others have suggested that Supreme Court justices should be made life benchers as in the United States’ Supreme Court.

“Although this suggestion looks attractive, especially against the backdrop of frequent retirement in recent years of justices, who look very well and strong at their retirement age.

“These suggestions are not feasible for now, as our country is not developed and mature enough to adopt the retirement age of justices of the U.S.

“This is because the society and social set-up of the U.S. are not the same as the society and social set-up of Nigeria where our justices serve.

“American judges have full complements of highly trained qualified and efficient personal workers, who provide assistance to the justices in real time. Personal staff are appointed on the basis of competence and efficiency,” he said.

According to him, 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 Nigeria 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 to our country, a retirement age suitable for USA but unsuitable for our country”.