Wale Babalakin, SAN, faulted the proposed appointment of SANs and other lawyers to the Supreme Court bench, saying: “Such a privilege is for very exceptional people, and there are very few around.” The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, had invited the Bar to nominate lawyers for appointment as Supreme Court justices, following which the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, shortlisted nine persons, including six SANs. But Babalakin, who delivered the 10th memorial lecture in honour of Kehinde Sofola, SAN, said the legal system should rather be structured in a manner that only very gifted lawyers aspire to judicial appointment, adding that it was the only way to provide justice according to law. Babalakin believes lawyers, who are appointed straight to the Supreme Court come once in a life time, and are of exceptional intellect. He said such appointments are not meant for “pedestrian advocates,” adding that it would kill the moral of brilliant judges at the lower bench. He said: “The fact that you are a good lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean you will be so exceptional as to be a Supreme Court Judge. The protagonists of this proposal mentioned some names that have made it to the Supreme Court directly from the Bar. Dr Taslim Elias’s curriculum vitae speaks for itself. “Another judge that was appointed directly to the Supreme Court in another jurisdiction is Mr. Justice Jonathan Sumption. Jonathan Sumption took a first class degree in Medieval History from Oxford University. “These are the caliber of men who can make a claim to a direct appointment to the Supreme Court of any country. They come once in a life time. This hop, step and jump is not meant for every pedestrian advocate who has nothing to show than a prolonged stay in the courts with relative lack of distinction. “If you are considered so gifted, an exception can be made for a few appointments to the Courts of Appeal where, if you now distinguish yourself, you can be given an accelerated promotion to the Supreme Court.”


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