In a recent address at an event commemorating his 60th anniversary at the bar, esteemed Nigerian senior advocate Afe Babalola made a compelling case for the exclusive involvement of retired judges in the handling of election petition tribunals. Babalola’s remarks, delivered in Ado-Ekiti, highlighted the potential impact on regular court proceedings and emphasized the need for a comprehensive overhaul of the judiciary.
Babalola firmly asserted that election tribunals should be entrusted to retired judges and senior advocates, a measure he believes will mitigate any adverse effects on regular court cases. By allocating election petition responsibilities solely to retired judges, the legal luminary argued that the overall functionality of the judiciary would remain unaffected.
Furthermore, Babalola expressed a resolute stance on the dire need for a complete overhaul of the judicial system, stressing that such an overhaul could only be accomplished through the implementation of a new constitution. In illustrating the urgency for change, he shared his personal experience with ongoing university-related cases that have persisted for an arduous four-year period.
Of particular concern to Babalola was the impact of judges handling election petitions on the operational capacity of the headquarters. He pointed out that the presence of judges handling such petitions has resulted in prolonged disruptions, rendering the headquarters unable to convene for several months. To mitigate this issue, Babalola proposed that election petitions be exclusively resolved by a dedicated committee composed of senior advocates and retired judges. By adopting this approach, regular courts would not face the need for closure.
Babalola’s remarks underscored the pressing need for reform within the Nigerian judiciary and shed light on the vital role retired judges can play in ensuring the smooth functioning of election petition tribunals, while safeguarding the continuity of regular court proceedings.