President Bola Tinubu has assented to a constitutional amendment bill harmonising the retirement age of judges across courts.

The Director of Information, State House, Abiodun Oladunjoye, disclosed in a statement on Thursday that the president signed the bill presented by the outgoing 9th National Assembly.

"In exercising the powers vested in him under the 1999 Constitution as amended, President Bola Tinubu on Thursday at the State House assented to a fresh amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"President Tinubu signed into law the 'Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fifth Alteration) (No.37), 2023' presented by the outgoing 9th National Assembly.

"With the signing of the constitutional amendment Bill, retirement age and pension rights of judicial officers have been effectively brought into uniformity and other related matters."

Before 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.

The bill signed into law by Mr Tinubu on Thursday 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.

The presiding officers of the inferior courts are not under the direct disciplinary control of the National Judicial Council (NJC), unlike the judges of the superior courts of record.

The State House statement said Thursday that President, while signing the bill, "pledged his administration's dedication to strengthening the judiciary, ensuring the rule of law, and empowering judicial officers to execute their responsibilities effectively."

The Senate had passed the bill on 3 May, almost four weeks to the end of the tenure of then President Muhammadu Buhari.

With the concurrent passage of the bill, the National Assembly subsequently directed its Clerk to transmit the Constitution Alteration Bill 20, which approves the uniform retirement age for judicial officers in Nigeria, to the president for assent.

This followed the adoption of a motion titled: "Passage of Constitution (Fifth) Alteration Bill No. 20 (Uniform Retirement Age for Judicial Officers), 2023" at plenary on Tuesday.

The bill sought to extend the retirement age of High Court judges from 65 to 70 years.

The motion, which was sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review, Ovie Omo-Agege, was in line with provisions of the Authentication Act.

"Recall that on Tuesday, April 4, the Clerk to the National Assembly was directed to transmit Constitution Alteration Bill No. 47 (Establishment of State Security Council) after it met the requirement of Section 9(2) of the Constitution to Mr President for his assent.

"Recall also that Sokoto State House of Assembly was among the State Houses of Assembly that were yet to forward their resolution. Others are Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Plateau, Sokoto and Taraba State Houses of Assembly.

"Aware that Sokoto state House of Assembly has forwarded its resolution; and convinced that with the approval of Sokoto State House of Assembly, the Constitution (Fifth Alteration) Bill No. 20 (Uniform Retirement Age for Judicial Officers), has met the provisions of Section 9(2) of the Constitution, for passage," Mr Omo-Agege said.

"This is one of the key elements of the Ninth Senate legislative agenda to reform the judiciary.

"Having a uniform retirement age for the Judiciary will remove the backlog of cases and ensure speedy dispensation of justice," he said.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan expressed delight over the development.

"This is very important amendment to the Constitution, and we are happy that it is going to be part of our legacy as the 9th National Assembly," he said,



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