A lawyer shall not accept employment as an advocate in any matter upon the merits of which he had previously acted in a judicial capacity. For example, a judicial officer ceasing to hold office who intends to exercise his Constitutional right of defending himself and prosecute his case whether in a civil or criminal matter is not a legal practitioner before the Court or Tribunal; he is merely a party, not a litigant. As such, same shall not wear a wig or robe, nor sit in the outer bar or well of the Court reserved for legal practitioners. Other options available to a judicial officer who is retired are that he may continue to use the word “Justice” as part of his name and may be a consultant.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also makes provision for the same. SECTION 292 (2) of the 1999 CONSTITUTION (AS AMENDED) states:
“Any person who has held office as a judicial officer shall not on ceasing to be a judicial officer for any reason whatsoever thereafter appear or act as a legal practitioner before any court of law or tribunal in Nigeria.”
Also, the Rules of Professional Conduct provides for retirement from a judicial position or employment. In Nigeria, Part A of the RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR LEGAL PRACTITIONERS, 2007 regulates the practice as a legal practitioner. Rule 6 (2) – (5) states as follows:
- (2)A lawyer having once held public office or having been in the public employment shall not after his retirement accept employment in connection with a matter in respect of which he had previously acted in a judicial capacity or on the merit of which he had advised or dealt with in such office or employment
(3) “A judicial officer who has retired shall not practice as an advocate in any Court of law or judicial tribunal in Nigeria.
(4) A judicial officer who has retired shall not sign pleading in any court.
(5) A judicial officer who has retired may continue to use the word “Justice” as part of his name.”
See also; State v. Ughanwa (2020) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1710) 22 C.A.
Altogether, it is noteworthy that where a legal practitioner is a Retired Judicial Official, the same cannot appear in a Court nor sign pleadings.