Mr Anthony Makolo, Director of the Makolo Foundation for Indigent prisoners has called for improved healthcare service for judges.
Makolo made the call in an interview while reacting to the recent death of a judge of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) Justice Edith Agbakoba.
The death of Agbakoba was announced on by the President of the NICN, Justice Benedict Kanyip.
Justice Agbakoba who was a judge of the Abuja division of the NICN, reportedly died in the early hours of Monday.
Although the cause of her demise appears sketchy, Justice Kanyip had ordered all offices of the NICN to close at 1p.m and that all flags were to fly half-mast throughout the week in honour of their departed colleague.
NAN reports that on Oct. 30, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court (FHC) Justice John Tsoho, had also announced the death of brother judge, Justice Fatun Riman.
Riman, who sat as judge of the Awka division of the FHC, was said to have died from health related complications.
Reacting to the development, Makolo underscored the need for improved health care for judges, as part of efforts to ensure good life span as well as efficiency on the bench.
“It is so disheartening
to hear of the demise of Justice Agbakoba just shortly after the judiciary lost Justice Riman of the Federal High Court.
“This development brings to mind the dire need for a review of the working conditions of our judges in Nigeria.
“A judge who sits on the bench for quality hours reading, researching, and writing proceedings in long hands in order to determine the fate of a defendant, deserves good medical care,” he said
He, noted that sadly, the reverse is the case as even the remuneration of judges does not adequately cater for all their needs as it should.
Makolo, therefore, urged the judiciary to ensure that adequate health care facilities are made available for Nigerian judges in a bid to promote their health .
In the same vein, another Lagos-based lawyer, Mrs Fortune Ezikeoha, also commiserated with families of the departed jurists.
According to her, the death of a member of the “bench” creates such a huge vacuum especially in relation to justice administration.
“When a jurist dies, every officer of the court in which he presided, is thrown into anguish because they understand the quantum of task executed by the deceased judge.
“We have now lost two judges within three weeks and this clearly, must draw our consciousness to the need for adequate medical attention for our judges
“As simple as it may sound, a slight rise in the blood pressure of an individual, could trigger unimaginable harm to such victim if not tendered.
“So, we find a situation where some of our judges diligently execute their duties without a recourse to medical checkup
“The result are some of these sad news we now hear,” she said
Ezikeoha, consequently, called for an upward review of judges remuneration, to bring it in line with acceptable living standards.
“If Nigerian judges are provided with adequate health care allowances, as well as adequate remuneration like their colleagues in foreign jurisdictions, it will address most of these issues,” he said