A lawyer, Sebastine Hon, sued the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Judicial Council (CNJ) concerning the “poor salaries” of Nigerian judges.
In September 2021, the President of the Court of Appeal, Monica Dongban-Mensem, appealed to the federal government for an upward revision of judges’ salaries.
She lamented that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who heads the judiciary, only earns 279,497 Naira as a monthly salary, while her Supreme Court colleagues go home with a monthly salary of 206,425 Naira.
The President of the Court of Appeal revealed that she receives the sum of 206,425 Naira, while other judges of the Court of Appeal go home with 166,285 Naira every month.
Mr. Hon, Nigeria’s Lead Counsel, seeks an order from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) compelling the defendants – the AGF, the NJC, the National Assembly and the Revenue Mobilization and Taxation and Allowance Commission (RMAFC) ) – to increase the salaries and allowances of judges in the country.
The claimant noted that the highest paid judicial officer in the country, the CJN, currently earns about 3.4 million naira per year, well below what such an officer earns in other countries.
Ms. Dongban-Mensem corroborated Mr. Hon’s assertion when she said that the salary structure of bailiffs and staff in Nigeria has always ranked poorly when compared to their counterparts in Commonwealth countries.
The National Assembly asked the court on Monday to authorize an amicable settlement in the lawsuit brought against her and three others, challenging the low salaries of the country’s judicial officers.
The parliament, through its lawyer, Charles Yoila, told the judge, Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osagie, that the institution wanted to resolve the dispute out of court.
Mr. Yiola told the judge that the National Assembly would have opted for a quick resolution of the dispute had it not been for the strike called by the parliamentary workers.
But Adegboyega Awomolo, a senior lawyer in Nigeria (SAN), who ran 33 other SANs, sought to assert the original subpoena in the lawsuit filed by Mr Hon.
However, the hearing could not take place due to the absence of the RMAFC, the AGF and the CNM, who were not represented by a lawyer.
In a ruling, the judge, Ms Obaseki-Osagie, adjourned the case to June 22 for a report of settlement by the parties in the case.
Key lawyers present included Kanu Agabi, Mike Ozekhome, Mr. Hon, Godwin Obla, Emeka Ngige, Hassan Liman, Tawo Tawo, Emeka Etiaba, Paul Ogbole, Henry Akunebu, Audu Anuga and John Asoluka.
Mr. Hon, who filed the lawsuit, is asking the court to force the defendants to raise the salaries and allowances of the country’s judges.
In court filings, Mr Hon said that as a jurist, “who has practiced at all levels of courts in Nigeria, I know that the low remuneration of magistrates seriously affects the quality of judgments and decisions. rendered by these magistrates and the discharge”. other functions associated with their functions.
He argued that the current economic reality of the country demands that the salaries and allowances of the country’s judges be urgently improved.
Mr Hon, who quoted what all judicial officers currently earn under Part IIB of the Schedule to the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances) Act 2008 (Amendment) Act 2008 etc.), said the paltry sums had discouraged him from aspiring to become a judge.
He pointed out that it has been around 14 years since judges’ salaries and allowances were last increased in 2008, despite the naira losing value against other global currencies such as the dollar. American, the pound sterling and the European dollar. Union Euro (EU), etc.
“In November 2008, when the amended law was in force, the exchange rate between the naira and the US dollar was N117.74 to 1 USD.
“The naira has lost its value significantly over time; but bailiffs in Nigeria have been placed on the same salary scale up to 12 years, i.e. since 2008,” he said.
Mr. Hon asks the court for a “declaration that … it is unconstitutional” for the RMAFC “to refuse or neglect to revise upwards the salaries and allowances of judicial officers despite the evolution of local and international socio-economic realities “.
The plaintiff wants an order compelling the defendants to immediately activate measures to urgently review the remuneration of judicial officers, raising that of the CJN to a minimum of 12 million naira per month, 11 million naira for other judges of the Supreme Court and President of the Court of Appeal; N10 million for the other judges of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court and the President of the National Labor Court (NIC).
Mr. Hon also wants the court to compel the defendants to increase the minimum monthly income of an NIC judge to 9 million naira; N8 million for Chief Justices of the States High Court and the Federal Capital Territory, while other judges are entitled to N7 million.
He also seeks an order requiring the RMAFC or any other agency entrusted with its responsibilities, “to, in perpetuity, to review and continue to undertake and carry out, in conjunction with the 3rd Defendant (AGF), an annual review or at plus two- annual revision of the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers listed above, with a view to making the said salaries and emoluments realistic and in conformity with the functions and functions attached to/exercised by these functions.
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