A Supreme Court justice, Amina Augie has retired from the bench having reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Augie’s retirement further depletes the number of justices at the apex court to 11.
In July, the number of justices at the supreme court was reduced to 12 after the death of Chima Centus Nweze, a member of the bench, as against the maximum requirement of 21.
Speaking at a valedictory session held in her honour on Thursday, Augie decried the workload that the apex court judges have to deal with.
She added that a constitutional amendment is needed to limit the cases that come up to the court.
“One remarkably day, we found ourselves entertaining an appeal in an unusual criminal case,” she said.
“Surprisingly, it was not the accused or convict, who had filed the appeal. It was the state. The case involved an incident of arson where 12 goats were set ablaze.
“As we grappled with the load of pending judgments and the stack of files awaiting review for our upcoming conference- a sacred ritual in this court- I could not help but voice my astonishment.
“Something must change. This court is the apex court, and its final decisions shape society’s social order. Justices should be able to focus on what truly matters.
“They could issue directives for formulating specific policies or amend existing ones to better serve their intended purposes.
“But how can they do that when they are drowning in an overwhelming caseload?
“This marks the final instance where my voice will be heard in any court and I wish to use this opportunity to directly address the 10th National Assembly, through distinguished Senate President Godswill Akpabio, who was once my student at the Law School.
“I had the privilege of teaching him evidence and I trust that he learned well.
“Hence, it should be evident to him that swift action is needed from the 10th national assembly to accomplish what others could not – amending the Constitution to enhance the functioning of our courts in Nigeria.”
In his speech, Lateef Fagbemi, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, said the federal government is committed to improving the welfare and condition of service of judicial officers in the country.
“President Bola Tinubu-led government shall guarantee excellent conditions of service and remunerations good enough to appreciate the onerous duties of judicial officers at all levels,” Fagbemi said.
Earlier in his speech, Olukayode Ariwoola, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), described Augie as “a rare gem and unblemished symbol of humility and piety”.