Pursuing a Judge’s career path in Nigeria is a huge feat. Becoming a judge in the legal system is no simple feat, demanding unwavering dedication and relentless hard work. A judge, as a public official, presides over court proceedings either alone or in collaboration with other judges. The judge is expected to demonstrate intelligence and soundness of mind by providing unbiased judgments.
The Nigerian President appoints a qualified lawyer, suggested by the National Judicial Council (NJC), as a judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria after ten years of legal practice. You must first become a lawyer before pursuing a Judge’s career path. Being a judge necessitates the development of relevant skills, knowledge, and abilities.
I will guide you on the steps and requirements to pursuing a judge’s career path in Nigeria
Steps to Becoming a Judge
Obtain a Law degree:
To pursue a judge’s career path, you must first obtain a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited top university in Nigeria to study law. Having a legal profession is a prerequisite for applying to law school and becoming a judge.
Attend the Nigerian Law School:
The Nigerian law school is an academic institution that provides legal education as well as practical training to the country’s aspiring legal practitioners. The Law School offers a one-year program that prepares students for the Bar Final Examination and covers all topics of the law.
Complete the Bar Final Examination:
After completing the program at the Nigerian Law School, you must pass the Bar Final Examination. This exam assesses your knowledge of Nigerian law and legal procedures. While attending the Nigerian Law School, students gain practical exposure to the workings of the Nigerian legal system through externships. They are required to complete two periods of externships, which involves working at a law firm and in a court.
Gain Legal Experience:
After passing the Bar Final Examination, it is essential to gain legal experience by working as a lawyer. Additionally, many aspiring judges choose to work as legal practitioners or in law firms, government agencies, or corporate legal departments to develop practical knowledge of the law.
Consider becoming a clerk:
After graduating from law school, one potential alternative is to work as a judicial clerk. A clerk is a professional who supports a judge in their duties. While a judge renders a decision, a clerk provides assistance and legal advice to the public. A clerkship increases one’s chances of becoming a judge in the future.
Fulfil the Judicial Service Commission Requirements:
In Nigeria, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is in charge of the appointment of judges. They may have specific qualifications for judicial positions. Additionally, you should become familiar with the JSC’s requirements and standards. The Judicial Service Commission may require a minimum number of years of legal practice, positive character references, and other qualifications.
Apply for Judicial Positions:
Keep a look out for openings for judgeships. Publications or the JSC’s official website frequently advertise these opportunities. Submit your application along with all required documents, such as your CV, academic credentials, and any other relevant information.
Attend Judicial Interviews:
If the Judicial Service Commission or a panel of judges shortlists your application, they may invite you to an interview. Prepare for the interview by researching Nigerian laws, legal precedents, and current legal challenges. Prepare to demonstrate your expertise, ethics, and aptitude for the position.
The proper authorities, such as the Chief Justice of Nigeria or the Governor of a state, typically appoint individuals as judges if they pass the interview and meet all the conditions, depending on the level of court.
Areas of Specialisation for Judges in Nigeria
- Criminal Court Judges: They specialise in criminal cases such as theft, violence, murder, and other violations of criminal legislation.
- Family Court Judges: They preside over marital issues, such as divorce, child custody, adoption, and domestic conflicts.
- Civil Court Judges: Civil law judges preside over trials such as contracts, property disputes, family law, and personal damage claims.
- Tax Court Judges: They handle tax-related problems, such as disagreements over tax liabilities, tax evasion, and the interpretation of tax laws and regulations.
- Constitutional Court Judges: Constitutional court judges interpret and apply constitutional provisions, and handle issues of rights, powers, and challenges to legislation.
- Administrative Court Judges: Administrative court judges preside over matters such as disagreements between individuals or organisations and government entities. Administrative acts, regulatory decisions, and judicial review of administrative decisions are examples of such issues.
- Labour and Employment Court Judges: Labour and employment court judges handle employer-employee disputes, such as contracts, termination, discrimination, and labour rights.
Salary of Judges in Nigeria
A Nigerian judge’s salary depends on experience and court rank. The average monthly salary varies from N500,000 to N4 million.
To become a judge in Nigeria, one must first demonstrate hard work, consistency, and honesty. The selection process is rigorous and demanding, selecting only the best candidates. Additionally, you need to apply diligence and commitment in your work and study life to accomplish this feat.