From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A lawyer, Anighoro Mathias, has challenged the judgment of the National Labor Court, ordering the immediate revision to the increase of the judges’ salaries on the grounds that it was pronounced outside the jurisdiction and should be annulled on the spot .
Justice Osatohanmwen Obasaki-Osaghae had in her judgment ruled that the minimum monthly salary of N10 million should be paid to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and N9 million should be paid to each Supreme Court Justice.
The judgment follows a complaint marked NICABJ/142/2022 filed by a senior Nigerian lawyer, Chief Sebastine Hon, who argued that since 2008, when judges’ salaries and allowances were increased for the Last time, inflationary trends and current socio-economic realities made this salary inadequate.
In the lawsuit, Hon said that as a jurist, “who has practiced at all levels of courts in Nigeria, I know that the poor remuneration of judicial officers seriously affects the quality of judgments and decisions that these officers render. and the discharge of other duties related to their duties.
In her judgment, Justice Obaseki-Osaghae ordered the National Assembly (NASS), the Revenue Mobilization and Taxation Commission (RMAFC), the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice (AGF) and the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to comply with the court’s direction to ensure immediate enforcement of its order.
However, in digging holes in the judgment, … said that the plaintiff, Mr. Sabastine Hon, did not have the required locus standi to bring the case and that the court was required to have declined jurisdiction and dismissed the case. ‘affair.
“Does the plaintiff, Mr. Hon, who is a highly experienced member of the domestic bar, have legal capacity to bring or commence the action in court. My answer is no. What harm has he suffered or is he at risk of suffering from the low income of judges? He did not demonstrate in court that his case was not heard by any court due to the low income of judges.
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What is his interest which is far superior to any other person on the question of the welfare program for judges?
It is well settled law that if a plaintiff does not have standing to bring an action, the court would have no jurisdiction to hear the case and the proper order to make is to dismiss the case.
Jurisdiction is fundamental and a preliminary issue in a proceeding. It is the common thread, the foundation and the foundation of all judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings.
“Any decision taken by an incompetent court, however just, becomes void and its invalidity may be challenged under the doctrine of “Coram non-judice”, and such judgment or decision is subject to reversal.
He further argued that the court does not have the power to fix the salaries of magistrates, as such powers rest only with the Taxation and Revenue Mobilization Commission (RMAFC), as provided in paragraph 32 ( ae) Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Moreover, the judgment violated the principle of natural justice (Nemo Judex in Causa Sua), which provides that no one can judge a case in which he has an interest.
“Judge Obaseki-Osaghae, being a bailiff who will benefit from the judgment, cannot be a judge in her own case. The legal effect of a breach of natural justice is normally to stop the proceedings and render any judgment invalid, or quashed or postponed for a valid hearing.
The National Labor Court had also held that by the combined interpretation of the provision of Article 4(1)(2) of the 1999 constitution as amended and the first schedule of Article 6(1b) of the RMAFC Act of 2004, that the first and second defendants had no power to neglect, fail or perform their constitutional and statutory duties to review judges’ salaries since 2008.
Obaseki-Osaghae further declared the act unconstitutional and said current judges’ salaries were too low given current socio-economic realities and other factors such as the value of the naira against the currencies of certain countries.
She further issued a binding injunction order requiring all defendants to immediately put in place or activate legal and administrative mechanisms to begin paying the judges.
The minimum monthly salary of N10 million, she said, should be paid to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and each Supreme Court Justice, a minimum monthly salary of N9 million.
She said a minimum monthly salary of 9 million naira should be paid to the president and judges of the Court of Appeal.
The court also ordered a minimum monthly salary of 8 million naira for the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court and 7 million naira for each of the judges in the same court.
As for the president of the National Labor Court and each of the judges of the same court, a minimum monthly salary of 8 million and 7 million naira respectively has been ordered by the court.
The court ordered that the Chief Justice of each State High Court and each judge of the same court be paid a minimum monthly salary of N7 million.
The judge further said that the minimum monthly salary for the Chief Justice of the FCT should be 8 million Naira and 7 million Naira for each judge in the same court.
Regarding Grand Khadi of Shariah and Khadi of FCT Shariah Appeal Court, the court said that a minimum monthly salary of 8 million and 7 million naira should be their net salary.
The tribunal, as part of its decision, ordered that the minimum monthly salary for the chairman of the FCT Customary Court of Appeal be set at 8 million and 7 million naira for each judge in the same court.
The court also issued a binding injunctive order requiring the second defendant, the RMAFC, or any other body that will subsequently be entrusted with the duties of reviewing judges’ salaries, to perpetually review in conjunction with the third defendant, on an annual basis. or biennial. review of judges’ salaries.