The National Assembly may adopt the report of its constitution review committees seeking the extension of the retirement age of Supreme Court Justices from 70 to 75 years.
Also, the retirement age for State and Federal High Court Judges may be extended from 65 to 70 years to bring them at par with Justices of the Appeal Court who currently retire at 70.
Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Ovie Omo-Agege, who dropped the hint yesterday in Abuja, however, declared that the final decision on these issues would be taken on the floors of the Senate and the House of Representatives in March 2021 when the report of the committees would be passed.
Delivering a keynote address at a retreat by the Senate Constitution Review Committee in Abuja, Omo-Agege explained that because of the special nature of the bills for the review of the retirement age of the Supreme Court Justices and the High Court Judges, the leadership of the National Assembly had resolved to consider the report on them in March.
While urging members of the committee to ensure that the report on the matter would be ready in March, Omo-Agege said: “To put you (members of the Committee) under further pressure, we (National Assembly leadership) have also decided to extricate one or two issues dealing with the judiciary, most importantly, the one dealing with the retirement age for judges of the states, including the FCT and the Federal High Courts to bring it in parity with the 70 years retirement age of the Court of Appeal.
“Of course, there is also the issue of the clamour by the Supreme Court to also move from 70 to 75 years. I am sure you are all aware that it is up to our colleagues in both chambers and of course, the State Houses of Assembly to decide whether or not we should move ahead with both.”
Omo-Agege added that other constitution amendment bills would be considered and passed in June, saying: “But I want to put you under pressure that these two bills must be ready for consideration by March. The Senate and the House of Representatives would be prepared to take those two isolated issues while every other matter under consideration will come upon the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives in June this year.”
According to him, over 60 bills for constitution amendments sponsored by senators across party lines have been introduced on the floor of the Senate.
It was learnt that the sole purpose of the retreat was to review and analyse the 2014 National Conference Report, the Report of the APC Ad-hoc Committee on True Federalism and the 254 memoranda received by the committee from the public.
The Deputy President of the Senate stated that the 254 memoranda cover a range of areas that include the devolution of power to the federating units by way of moving some items from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List.
He added: “Of equal importance is issues of local government fiscal autonomy, the unfettered autonomy of the judiciary in line with their traditional role of the administration of justice. Others are issues of derivation, streamlining of criteria for qualification for participation in elective offices at all levels, such that more people are encouraged to participate.
“There is also the issue of affirmative action and gender equality, plus youth inclusiveness in the governance process. We are also concerned with measures that will help fight perennial poverty and help address the ever-growing concern on national security as well as the security and safety of Nigerians wherever they reside in the country. Some of these areas need to be addressed directly in the constitution.”