A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, has called for the stoppage of request for applications for the appointment of judges. He urged return to the erstwhile practice “in the past (when) appointments to the Bench were by invitation based on the competence and integrity of lawyers.”
The legal luminary spoke in Ado Ekiti on Friday during the launch of ‘Testament of Judicial Pronouncement’ written by the retiring Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Justice Ayodeji Daramola.
He lauded Daramola, who he said would “forever be remembered for being a fearless and an incorruptible judge.”
Babalola also bemoaned the poor welfare and remuneration of Nigerian judges.
He said no successful SAN will serve as a judge with the poor welfare.
He lamented that poor remuneration for judges was a clog in the wheel of getting quality lawyers to serve as judges, saying, “No successful senior advocate would abandon his lucrative practice to serve as a judge unless we address the issue of remuneration of Judges.
“In the past, judges’ remuneration was at par with the remuneration of judges in England. Most of the time, I am worried and disturbed when I find that judges’ cars break down due to age. There are situations where some of them don’t even have cars at all.
“Today, the salaries of Nigeria judges when compared with the salaries of their counterparts in other countries are to say the least miserably low.
“While a high court judge in Nigeria earns $18,474, his counterpart in UK gets E 181,566, US gets 231,800 and Australia $541,050. While a Supreme Court justice in Nigeria receives $22,946, his counterpart in UK gets E206,857 , US gets 280,500 and Australia takes $596,220.
“I suggest that we should borrow a leaf from England by inviting eminent SANs to the Bench at High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court levels, thereby improving quality of those who are appointed as judges,” Babalola said.
Babalola, who also decried the prolonged industrial action of the judiciary workers and implication on justice administration and economy of lawyers, called on the Executive and Legislature to “ensure that the situation in the judiciary is immediately resolved, or else, they are by their action, aiding the collapse of the country.”
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, congratulated the retiring CJ for the services rendered to the state during his years of legal career as a judge in the state.
Daramola urged serving judges to protect their integrity and good names by staying away from politics and politicians.