NBA meets AGF over S’Court justices, other judges’ welfarism

Concerned by the poor remuneration of judges at all levels, the Nigerian Bar Association has met with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), over the need for the government to, without further delay, review the take-home pay of judicial officers.

Sunday PUNCH gathered that the NBA’s committee on judiciary, led by the chairman, Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), visited the AGF a few days ago.

The National Publicity Secretary, NBA, Akorede Lawal, who confirmed the visit to one of our correspondents, said the effort was in furtherance of the association’s commitment to improved welfare package for judicial officers.

Lawal had in a previous interview with Sunday PUNCH noted that the association planned to write to the AGF on the areas that required reforms in the sector on Fagbemi’s demand when the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), and his team paid him a courtesy call after his inauguration as minister.

Lawal had said in a statement on August 19, “Fagbemi (SAN) expressed his appreciation to the NBA president and his team for the visit. He remarked that it gives him a lot of comfort knowing that he has the support of the bar. He then called upon the NBA president to present to the office of the attorney-general the NBA’s official position on law reforms and areas of improvement for the judiciary.”

It was gathered that one of the areas the NBA wanted swift reforms was the “poor” remuneration of judges, among other issues.

Speaking further on the NBA’s latest meeting with the AGF on the issue, Lawal stated, “We have gone beyond the letter. The Judiciary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, led by Mr Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), a few days ago met with the Attorney-General of the Federation on those concerns. A whole lot of work is going on formally and discussions are ongoing on how the executive can be part of the process.

“We have a very good relationship with the AGF and we have a lot of avenues to regularly engage with him on the administration of justice in Nigeria. The NBA president had taken the initiative even before it became a matter of public discourse. We have been in the vanguard of this advocacy since last year, and we submitted a memorandum to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission on the increment in judicial officers’ salaries and allowances.

“The NBA president chairs that committee of the NBA and we have already formally requested for about 300 per cent increase in the salaries and emoluments of judicial officers. The RMAFC peculiarly requested a memorandum from the NBA because of our campaign in this regard, and it was submitted last year. So, we have continued to engage them at different fora on the need to quicken that process.”

He said if political officer holders could be going home with huge salaries and allowances, judicial officers should not be deliberately pauperised. “In some countries, judicial officers and teachers are the best paid, but the reverse is what we have here,” he added.

Wale Babalakin (SAN) had said at the valedictory court session for an Appeal Court judge, Justice Fatimo Akinbami, that the condition of service of judges was a disgrace to senior lawyers. He noted that something had to be done to address the situation, saying the fight for a good condition of service could not be left for the judges alone.

“It is a personal disgrace for every senior lawyer that the job is not developing, while judges do not enjoy good conditions of service. We can’t leave the fight to the judges alone. We are all guilty of this neglect and we must find a way to make it better. In a system where judges cannot meet their needs effortlessly, it shows that the system is not helping the judiciary,” Babalakin stated.

Judges salaries revealed

Meanwhile, based on the data collated from a document obtained from the website of the RMAFC, the Chief Justice of Nigeria earns about N560,662.16 monthly, comprising his basic salary and some allowances, while some others were not disclosed. The sum includes N280,331.04 basic salary, N70,082.80 as personal assistant allowance, N140,165.52 as hardship allowance, and N70,082.80 as outfit allowance.

Similarly, each justice of the Supreme Court and the President of the Court of Appeal earn about N908,273.67 monthly, comprising basic salary and some allowances. Findings revealed that the pay of the other justices of the apex court was higher than the CJN’s because the latter enjoys some exclusive benefits that were not monetised.

The justices’ monthly pay includes N206,425.833 basic salary, N154,819.375 as motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance allowance, N51,606.458 as personal assistant allowance, N103,212.917 as hardship allowance, N154,819.375 as domestic staff allowance, N92,891.625 as entertainment allowance, N51,606.458 as outfit allowance, and N30,963.875 as newspapers/periodicals allowance.

At the moment, there are 11 justices at the apex court as against the 21 recommended by the constitution. Many lawyers and stakeholders have called for an expedited action to appoint more judges to the apex court.

For the Court of Appeal, the judges earn about N731,657.66 monthly based on the figure provided for basic salary and disclosed allowances. These include N166,285.83 basic salary, N124,714.37 as motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance allowance, N41,571.45 as personal assistant allowance, N83,142.91 as hardship allowance, N124,714.37 as domestic staff allowance, N74,828.62 as entertainment allowance, N49,885.75 as utility allowance, N41,571.45 as outfit allowance and N24,942.90 as newspapers/periodicals allowance.

The website of the Court of Appeal showed that there were about 72 judges of the court, excluding the nine that were recently approved, making a total of 80.

The President of the Court of Appeal, Monica Dongban-Mensem, had on September 13 disclosed that she earned N206,425 monthly, while other justices on the bench of the Court of Appeal earned N166,285 monthly. She, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government for an upward review of judges’ salaries.

She noted that both in Africa and other Commonwealth countries, Nigeria ranked poorly in terms of salary structure for judicial officers.

For the Federal High Court, the Chief Judge earns the same amount as the justices of the Court of Appeal.

However, other judges of the court earn about N661,735 monthly.

Last year, the Federal Government said it would implement an upward review of salaries of judicial officers. The move came amid a campaign by the Maikyau-led NBA for an upward review of the salaries of judges.

In June, there were reports that the RMAFC approved the increase in the salaries of political office-holders, judicial and public office holders by 114 per cent, a move that was greeted with criticism.

However, the RMAFC Chairman, Mohammed Shehu, said the commission would do what was best for the country when reviewing the pay for politicians, judges and public officers.

Maikyau congratulates SAN-designates

Meanwhile, the NBA president on Saturday congratulated all the advocates and the sole academic who were confirmed for elevation as Senior Advocates of Nigeria by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee on Thursday.

A statement by the Publicity Secretary of the association said Maikyau also commended the LPPC under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, “for the thorough and painstaking consideration of all applications and determination of the successful applicants for the year 2023.”

“The NBA president noted that the SAN rank is a continuous reminder to every legal practitioner that hard work and diligence are rewarding, even as he urged the SAN-designates to consider themselves as leaders of the legal profession and recognise the heavy expectations that the profession and society now have of them,” it added.


Join our new WhatsApp community! Click this link to receive your daily dose of NEWS FLASH content. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like.