A SeniorAdvocateof Nigeria, Sebastine Hon, has filed a suit against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF); National Judicial Council (NJC) and National Assembly (NASS) over poor wages being paid to judges.
Hon is praying a Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the trio, alongside the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), to increase the salaries and allowances of judges.
In a supporting affidavit to the originating summons, Hon stated that as a lawyer, “who has practised in all the levels of courts in Nigeria, I know that poor pay for judicial officers is seriously affecting the quality of judgments and rulings those officers are delivering and the discharge of other functions associated with their offices”.
He argued that the economic reality in the country requires that the salaries and allowances of the judges be urgently reviewed upward. The plaintiff said the highest-paid judicial officer in the country – the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) – earns about N3.4 million per annum.
Hon, who quoted what all judicial officers currently earn as provided under Part IIB of the Schedule to the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) Amendment Act 2008, said poor salary discouraged him from aspiring to become a judge.
He said it is about 14 years since the salaries and allowances of judges were last reviewed upward in 2008 despite the loss of value of the naira. “As of November 2008 when the amended Act was in force, the exchange rate between the naira and the US dollar was N117.74 to USD1.
“The naira has considerably lost its value over time; but judicial officers in Nigeria have been placed on the same salary scale for up to 12 years, namely since 2008,” he said.
He is therefore praying the court for among others, a declaration that by a combined reading of the provisions of section 6(1)(b) and (d) and Parts A and B of the FirstScheduletotheRevenue Allocation Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act, Cap. R7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,
it is unconstitutional for the 2nd defendant (RMAFC) to refuse or neglect to upwardly review the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers notwithstanding the changing local and international socio-economic realities.
The plaintiff wants an order compelling the defendants to forthwith activate measures to urgently review judicial officers’ pay, raising that of the CJN to a minimum of N12m monthly, N11m for other Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal President; N10m for other Justice of the Appeal Court, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and President of the National Industrial Court (NIC).
He also seeks an order compelling the RMAFC or any other body assigned its responsibilities, “to, in perpetuity, review and continue to embark upon and carry out, in conjunction with the 3rd defendant (AGF), a yearly or at most a two-yearly review of the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers listed above, with a view to making the said salaries and emolument realistic and befitting of the offices and duties attached to/exercised by such offices.” Meanwhile, no date has yet been fixed for hearing