A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Sebastian Hon, has sued the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the National Assembly (NASS) over poor salaries for judges.
The legal luminary, who instituted the suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja prayed the court to compel the defendants alongside the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), to increase judges’ salaries.
The senior lawyer said that he filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2022 in his capacity as a concerned legal practitioner in Nigeria.
In a supporting affidavit to the originating summons, Lawyer said that he was convinced that the poor wages of judges was affecting the quality of judgments delivered.
“As a legal practitioner who has practiced 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.
“It is also affecting the discharge of other functions associated with their offices.”
He contended that the current economic reality in the country required that the salaries and allowances of the nation’s judges be urgently improved.
The plaintiff said that the highest paid judicial officer in the country, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), currently earned about N3.4 million per annum.
He said this was far below what officers on the same level in other countries were earning.
The senior lawyer said that the salaries and allowances of judges were last reviewed upward in 2008 in spite of the loss of value of the naira vis-à-vis other global currencies.
“As of November, 2008 when the amended act was in force, the exchange rate between the naira and the U.S. dollar was N117.74 to one dollar.
He prayed the court to among others, declare that it was unconstitutional for the relevant authorities to neglect to review judges salaries upward.
“Make a declaration that by a combined reading of the provisions of Section 6(1)(b) and (d) and Parts A and B of the First Schedule to the Revenue Allocation Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act, Cap. R7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, it is unconstitutional for the RMAFC to refuse or neglect to upwardly review the salaries and allowances of judicial officers notwithstanding the changing local and international socio-economic realities.”
The plaintiff also wanted an order compelling the defendants to forthwith activate measures to urgently review judicial officers’ salaries.
“The salary of the CJN should be raised to a minimum of N12 million monthly, N11 million for other justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal President.
” N10 million for other justices of the Appeal Court, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and President of the National Industrial Court (NIC).”
He also asked the court to compel the defendants to raise the monthly minimum take home of a judge of the NIC to N9 million.
” N8 million for Chief Judges of High Court of states and the Federal Capital Territory, while the other judges should be entitled to N7 million.
He also asked the court to compel RMAFC or relevant authorities to in conjunction with the attorney-general, carry out a yearly or at most, a two-year review of salaries and allowances of judicial officers.
He said this should be done with a view to making the said salaries and emolument realistic and befitting of the offices and duties attached to and exercised by such officers.
No date has however, been fixed for the hearing of the suit.