President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on June 8, 2023, gave assent to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to ensure uniformity in the retirement age and pension rights of judicial officers of superior courts of record; and for related matters.
With the passage into law of the constitutional amendment Act, the retirement age and pension rights of judicial officers of superior courts of record have been effectively brought into uniformity and other related matters.
Prior to now, state and federal high court judges must quit the bench once they clocked 65. Similarly, judges of the National Industrial Court and Sharia and customary courts of appeal must retire at 65 but judges of both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court can remain on the bench till they are 70.[i]
The bill signed into law by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Thursday, June 8, 2023, raised the retirement age of the judges of the lower courts from 65 to 70. This brings the retirement of the lower court judges to par with that of the judges of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
The Nigerian constitution refers to these courts as superior courts of record, a prestigious designation that separates them from magistrate courts and other inferior courts like area courts.
The Act which sought to extend the retirement age of High Court judges from 65 to 70 years was passed by the Senate on May 3, 2023 at about four (4) weeks to the end of the tenure of the former President, Muhammadu Buhari.[ii] One of the intendments of the passage is for same to aid the removal of the backlog of cases and ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
Section 291 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria now recognize the official retirement age for judges of Court s of superior courts in Nigeria to be Seventy (70) year old.
The Act has equalized the three courts, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. Signing of the bill into law was to remove the disparity in the dichotomy between the High Court Judges and the Appellate Court judges.
A person becomes wiser and more experienced as he advances in age. Justices become more experienced and wiser as they get older, hence, should be allowed to remain on the bench till they are 70 years old.
Email us: [email protected]