*I WANT TO BE A JUDGE*
In Cameroon and in most of former French colonies, you would have to attend magistracy school as opposed to Law School if you wanted a career on the Bench.
Naturally, as with everything else; you need a certain disposition to be successful at any chosen career path.
I have interacted with and met judges in over 100 nations across all the continents and I can boldly say that a Nigerian Judge holds his own and stands out brilliantly amongst his peers.
However, we do have a serious issue in how we appoint judges and Magistrates in Nigeria. This problem has caused several setbacks in the development of law and precedence in Nigeria.
Recently, the Chairmen of respective branches of the NBA in Lagos received a letter from the State Judicial service commission regarding the appointment of Judges, giving them 24 hours to respond…. This is absolutely ridiculous and impracticable to say the least. Out of over 200 applicants, the Bar receives only 26 or so names to vet? You want to appoint judges from our ranks and you cannot even give us the full list? Who vetted and did the shortlist in the first place?
I find it even more worrisome that our colleagues are required to write an exam when they apply to the Bench. Even more worrisome is that the result of these exams are not made public and worst still, the candidates don’t even get to know what they scored.
It’s only in Nigeria that the Bench feels that they are superior to the Bar or that it’s some kind of higher legal authority in this profession.
I ask this question, how has the bench impacted this nation since independence….? In the last decade, how has the 3rd arm of government faired in the development of law, equity and good governance?
My colleagues on the Bench should consider their role and not shy away from their oversight responsibilities. We know those that are corrupt, easily manipulated, lazy, no talent at all for the job and those who are there because of the prestige that comes with it but a Judge will be judged also, which ever position you hold, in the customary court up to the supreme court, you are all just mere men!
I have a few advice for Lagos State on appointment of Judges and Magistrates;
1. I am a Lagosian but note that Lagos is a mix of all tribes and tongues so appoint judges and magistrates from all tribes and tongues..balance is key
2. Avoid political influences. Get the best, the boldest and the most talented for the job
3. Make the process transparent….we know ourselves already, all those appointed come from the Bar so no need for the coverups and secrecy
4. Respect the opinion of those in practice, we know more than you think we do about those seeking appointment to the bench.
5. The Bench is not the exclusive prerogative of a few families or others who think that they can control the justice system in Lagos or in Nigeria.
The failure of the legal profession and of Justice delivery in Nigeria lies squarely on all of us who are in the position to change things but refuse to.
These are my own opinions and I hold them innocently and with boldness. One who fears to say the truth as he sees it is but a coward and will suffer the decay that comes with living a lie!
Bayo Akinlade Esq