A Supreme Court judge, Mary Peter-Odili, retired after attaining the retirement age of 70 on Thursday.
Speaking at the valedictory court session held in her honour, Mrs Peter-Odili lamented the spate of violent crimes in Nigeria, which she attributed to youth unemployment.
At the event which held at the Supreme Court in Abuja, the retiring apex court justice, who is the wife of Peter Odili, a former Rivers State governor, warned that the “urgency of what we are all faced with right now calls for necessity in tackling them.
“The massive unemployment of tertiary institution graduates is a tip of the icebergs.
“The millions of idle youth is not unrelated to the insecurity on the ground,” she said.
She said the current strike action by public universities’ lecturers, which has lasted over three months, has compounded youth restiveness.
“The situation is not helped by the perennial strikes which leave students idling away.”
In tackling the problem, Mrs Peter-Odili suggested that “the Head of State should take on the garb of Minister of Youth, Employment and Social Welfare.”
Drawing from her experience as a former First Lady in Rivers State, Mrs Peter-Odili said with the president assuming the role of employment minister, he would direct “the implementation of what is put in place without middlemen” hijacking the process.
She advised state governors to adopt same strategies in dealing with youth unemployment.
Furthermore, Mrs Peter-Odili in her valedictory speech advocated the urgent “restructuring” of Nigeria.
“My humble view is that the issue (of restructuring) should be given an immediate attention.”
Recalling her over four-decade judicial career, she thanked her husband, Mr Odili, and colleagues for their support.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, poured encomium on Mrs Peter-Odili for her “irrepressible voice in the temple of justice.”
Mr Muhammad described the retiring jurist as the “epitome of jurisprudential finesse.”
“We are honouring an amiable lady of alluring qualities and excellence that transcend the legal profession,” he said.
The CJN noted that Mrs Peter-Odili “offered the best of her intellect to the advancement of the legal profession through her several years of inimitable adjudications at different levels of courts in Nigeria.
“She is a specimen of hard work, industry, discipline and high moral rectitude,” Mr Muhammad said.
Similarly, Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), praised the retiring justice for her contribution to Nigeria’s judicial system.
But, Mr Olanipekun who spoke on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, said the “legal profession today faces a lot of problems.”
“Political cases are responsible for the tagging of judiciary as ‘supermarket.'”
He pointed out that the Supreme Court cannot be “insular.”
“Where the Supreme Court gives a judgement in error, it should reverse itself, ” adding that “forum-shopping” where lawyers shop for favourable court decisions “has to be addressed.”
Mr Olanipekun urged the executive arm of government to “stop harassing the judiciary. The judiciary can never be inferior to any other arm of government.”
On his part, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, represented by Beatrice Jedy-Agba, Ministry of Justice’s permanent secretary, noted that Mrs Peter-Odili followed the path of honour during her time as justice on the bench of the Supreme Court.
He, however, called on the judiciary to embrace technological innovation to ensure a more effective and efficient justice delivery system.
Mrs Peter-Odili bowed out of service after attaining the 70 years mandatory retirement age.
She was born on May 12, 1952, to the royal family of Bernard Nzenwa in a highly commercially inclined community of Amudi Obizi, Ezinihitte-Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State.
She made headlines in October last year after 15 suspected invaders, including a suspected police officer, invaded her house to purportedly execute a search warrant.
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