An associate professor of law at Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Ifeoluwa Koni, has stressed the need for the insulation of the procedure for appointment and removal of the attorney general at the federal and state levels from partisan politics.
He said such insulation would allow the attorneys-general to function effectively as the chief law officers of the federation and states.
The journalist-turned law lecturer made the call in his speech at the public presentation of his book titled, “Appreciating the Nigerian Legal System” in Ilorin, Kwara State.
He harped on the need for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to play a major role in the appointment of an attorney general, saying “this is imperative because once appointed the Attorney General of the Federation (or of a State) becomes the Leader and President of the General Council of the Bar pursuant to section 1 of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap LI1, LFN 2004.”
He said, “It is therefore the height of absurdity for the Nigerian Bar Association not to have a say or voice in the appointment of a cabinet minister who is going to head the General Council of the Bar and, indeed, function as the leader of the Bar.”
On appointment and tenure of judges, the legal luminary faulted the provisions in the constitution which says “a person shall not be qualified to hold the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) or of a Justice of the Supreme Court unless he is qualified to practice as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for more than 15 years and also prescribing 12 years post call for eligibility for appointment as a High Court Judge”, saying that the provision is too liberal to be desirable.
“The implication of the Constitutional provision under reference is that a legal practitioner who has merely spent 15 years at the Bar is eligible to be appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court even where he has not shown a good mastery of the law.
“To cure this defect, a suggestion has been made in this book and it is hereby reiterated, that sections 231 (G), 238 (), 250 (3) and similar provisions of the Constitution should be amended to incorporate the requirement that in addition to being qualified to practice as a legal practitioner, the prospective appointee must show evidence of active involvement in the practice of law either as an advocate, a law teacher or law officer of the Ministry of Justice,” Koni posited.
The author frowned at the discrimination and disparity in retirement ages for the Justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal and other judicial officers, arguing that “what applies to the Justices of the appellate court should equally be extended to Judges of the other superior courts of record, as what is good for the goose, as they say, is equally good for the gander.”
The chairman of the occasion and vice – chancellor, Kwara State University (KWASU) Malete, Prof Muhammed Akanbi, thanked the author for what he described as a rich legal book.
Represented by the dean, Faculty of Law at KWASU, Dr Kayode Adams, the VC praised the author for taking the advantage of COVID-19 induced lockup in Uganda, where he was then, to write the book.