From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem has decried the popor salary structure of Nigerian Judges with a call on the Federal government to urgently review it.
In addition to the poor salary package, Justice Dongban-Mensem disclosed that Judges have been on one salary grade for over 10 years.
Making comparison, she lamented that the salary structure for judicial officers and staff has been consistently ranked poorly when compared to that of their counterparts in other African and Commonwealth countries.
The PCA who made the call on Monday at opening of the new legal year of the appellate court, disclosed that the last time salaries of judicial officers were reviewed in Nigeria, was on February 1, 2007 via the “Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) Amendment Act, 2008.
The Act, according to Justice Dongban-Mensem, ” the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s annual basic salary is N3,353,972.50 or N279,497.71 monthly, while other Justices of the Supreme Court and the President of the Court of Appeal earn N2,477,110.00 as basic annual salary or N206,425.83 monthly. My Brother Justices of the Court of Appeal, earn an annual basic salary of N 1,995,430.18 each or N 166,285.84 monthly, exclusive of benefits and allowances.
By comparison, a ThisDay Newspaper publication on 4th May 2021, reported that in South Africa, the Hon. Judges in the High Court and Labour Court earn annual basic salaries of R1.4 million (or N40.85 million). Judge-Presidents (Heads of Court) earn R1.6million (N46.69m) per annum, Constitutional and Supreme Court Justices earn R1.7 million (N49.61m) and the Chief Justice of South Africa earns R2.3 million (N67.12m). The President of the Supreme Court earns just over R2-million (N58.37m) a year.
More worrisome is the fact that the salaries of justices are static with no graduation as in the civil and public service.
“We therefore call upon the Federal and State Governments to live up to their obligations under the law. I also implore the Governments of the Federation and States to urgently review the salaries and allowances of Judicial Officers and Staff. The salaries of Justices are static with no graduation as in the civil and public service. We have been on one salary grade for over ten years now.”
The PCA who noted that the independence of the judiciary is a sine qua non to our efficient operation, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the promulgation of the “implementation of financial autonomy of state legislative and judiciary order, 2020, known as ” Executive Order 10″.
“We therefore call upon the Federal and State Governments to live up to their obligations under the law. ”
On the performance of the Appeal Court under review, the president disclosed that a total of 5,392 appeals and 9,249 motions were filed in the 2020 divisions of the Court in the last legal year between September 2020 to August 2021.
Out of the cases, Justice Dongban-Mensem revealed that 3,111 appeals were disposed along with 7,492 motions.
She added that out of the appeals 2, 169 appeals were dismissed while 942 appeals were upheld as at August 31, 2021.
Also speaking, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, appealed to the appellate court justices to maintain the sanctity and credibility of the Court and to ensure that the sacred integrity reposed in them remain un-shaking at all times in order to foster and promote public confidence in all their judgments.
He assured that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, will review the welfare of judicial officers generally to ensure greater efficiency.
Malami, urged judicial officers to maintain the sanctity and credibility of the Court, and to ensure that the sacred integrity reposed on Your Lordships remains unshaken at all times in order to foster and promote public confidence in all Rulings that emanate from this Court.
“Uniformity, consistency and universality of judgement and rulings in the face of judicial precedent is an exceptional value of our judicial system that we must at all times strive to uphold as a way of upholding the sanctity of the judiciary in re-enacting the confidence of the common man in our judicial system.