Appointment of Judges in Nigeria is the least rigorous-Osinbajo

Appointment of Judges in Nigeria is the least rigorous-Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says he believes that the process of appointing judges in Nigeria should be more stringent.

Osinbajo speaking during a 2022 justice sector summit organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Justice Research Institute in Abuja on Tuesday said it is “shocking” that the process for evaluating judges in Nigeria “is one of the least rigorous methods imaginable.”

 

The vice-president, who drew a parallel between Nigeria and other countries such as the United Kingdom, stated that appointing judges should include a thorough assessment of candidates.

“In the United Kingdom from where we derive most of the structures of our judicature, applicants to judicial office in superior courts go through several screening processes. At some point, it was 17 stages, including written examinations, interviews and role-play exercises,” he said.

“They are subjected to rigorous background investigations covering professional credentials and abilities, public records, judicial pronouncements, personal financial affairs, evaluation by the bar association on integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.

“And in the US, supreme court appointments involve rigorous public screening by the senate, which sifts through the entire public, and sometimes private lives of candidates.

“That is the nature of the rigour that anyone who should hold the power of life and death, and power over other people’s livelihoods, should go through.

“It shouldn’t be a ‘take a bow’ situation at all. It must be rigorous because the moment the person is appointed into a high office of that sort, they are unleashed as it were on the rest of us.

“The robustness and transparency of the processes in these jurisdictions provide comfort to the candidates of the fairness of the selection process and enables the public to have front-row seat in some of these processes.”

On judicial officer salary, Osinbajo stated that the conditions in which they work should be attractive enough to attract the greatest minds.

“Why should a judge earn so much less than a federal legislator? There is no basis for it whatsoever. We should in fact benchmark without necessarily creating fresh legislation because the legislature doesn’t have any legislation about their own salaries.

“The truth of the matter is that the responsibilities of the judge or justice of the supreme court/court of appeal are such they must be well remunerated.

“They are such that when they retire, they must be able to go to homes that they own in decent places where they live. That’s the way it should be.”

 

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