It was a mild drama yesterday at the conference hall of the National Judicial Institute when delegates voted to elevate the status of the Chief Justice of the Federation from fifth to third in the federal government protocol.
At present, the Chief Justice of the Federation is ranked fifth behind the President, Vice President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. However, delegates had argued that the status be altered so that the judiciary which is the third arm of the presidential structure be appropriately placed.
However, during the voice vote, delegates seemed to have voted in against the recommendation but the leadership of the conference felt that the matter was not clear enough. In fact, two members each were of the view that the decision was too close to call and therefore asked for a revote.
However, when the voice vote was again called for, it seemed to close to call but the leadership felt that the ayes had it and therefore insisted that the recommendation that the CJN be the third in rank be adopted.
That though did not go down well with the delegates who shouted “no no, no”. All efforts to calm the conference proved abortive. But Prof. Akinyemi, who presided, was undaunted as he proceeded with other amendments in spite of repeated interruptions of “no, no, no”.
However, he opted to put it in bracket among the other six pending issues which would be revisited and voted on subsequently.
Meanwhile attempts to recommended that 95 percent of members of the National Assembly be lawyers was voted out as the delegates rejected the recommendation insisting that they lawyers do not make better lawmakers than other persons from other professions.
But the delegates were unanimous on the improvement of working tools and improved welfare for judges and justices noting that the retirement age of age of judges and justices of superior courts be pegged at 70.