The Nation

Number of supreme court judges drops as Rhodes-Vivour bows out

BY Bolanle Olabimtan


Olabode Rhodes-Vivour has retired as a justice of the supreme court having reached the age of 70.

The number of justices of the apex court rose from 12 to 20 in November 2020 after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of eight justices.

However, with the death of Sylvester Ngwuta on March 7, and Rhodes-Vivour’s retirement the number of justices in the apex court has further reduced to 18 as against the constitutionally required number of 21.

Born on March 22, 1951, Rhodes-Vivour was appointed a high court judge on February 18, 1994.


He was elevated to the bench of the court of appeal on April 25, 2005.

In 2008 on secondment by the federal government, he was posted to Sierra Leone judiciary as a justice of the supreme court of Sierra Leone.

On his return to Nigeria, he was appointed as a justice of the supreme court on September 16, 2010.


With Rhodes-Vivour’s retirement, Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili becomes the second most senior justice of the apex court after the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

At the valedictory court session held in his honour on Monday, Ibrahim Muhammad (CJN) described the retired justice as one who is “physically energetic and never gets frightened by any form of challenges”.

“His amiable disposition and reticent outlook have literally made him a gentle tiger in the temple of justice,” the CJN said

Rhodes-Vivour, who ascribed his success to God, said he was never absent from duty over ill health in all his years as a judge.


“I have a testimony, not once was I ever absent from work as a judge due to illness. I did have health challenges, but they were resolved during vacation. All medical procedures were uneventful,” he said

“It is with humility that I have and will continue to give thanks praise and glory to the almighty God. The Lord has been good to me, and I will forever be thankful.”

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