The House of Representatives is considering raising the retirement age of judiciary workers in Nigeria to 75.
A bill seeking to alter relevant sections of the constitution to effect the change passed first reading at the House on September 29, 2020.
Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Mr Onofiok Luke, who sponsored the bill, said in the explanatory memorandum on the proposal that the amendment would promote experience and quality in the judiciary.
It reads, “A bill to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap. C23, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, to increase the retirement age for judicial officers in order to secure judicial independence, protect judicial officers from pressure, and promote experience and quality in justice delivery in Nigeria, and for related matters.”
The bill seeks to alter Section 291 of the constitution by substituting the word “seventy” in Line 2, Subsection 1 with the word “seventy-five,” and substituting for the word “sixty-five” with the word “seventy” in Line 3, Section 2.
Currently, High Court judges retire at 65 years old, while those of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court retire at 70.
In a related development, the House is also considering setting time frames for various categories of courts in Nigeria within which they must dispense justice in criminal and civil cases before them.
Superior courts are to give their judgments between 270 and 330 days, while the junior courts are to deliver judgment between 210 and 270 days.
Luke, who sponsored the bill, also said in the explanatory memorandum on the legislation that the proposal is to fast-track justice delivery.
“This bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to set time within which civil and criminal cases and matters are heard and determined at trial and appellate courts in order to eliminate unnecessary delay in justice administration and delivery,” the memorandum reads.
The bill, which passed first reading at the House on September 29, 2020, particularly seeks to amend Chapter VII, Part IV of the Principal Act by inserting a new Subsection ‘A’ in Section 287.
The subsection will read in part, (1) In any civil or criminal matter except in election petition, a trial superior court of record shall deliver its judgment in writing within 270 days from the date of the filing of the civil or criminal matter. – Punch.