From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The National Industrial Court (NIC), sitting in Abuja, on Friday reviewed and increased salaries of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CNJ), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola and other judicial officers in the country.
Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osagie who delivered the judgment lamented that salaries of judges and justices have been stagnated for over 14 years, despite the increased workload on judicial officers as they wallow in penury owing to their “extremely low salaries and allowances.”
The judgment was sequel to a suit that was brought before the court by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Sebastine Hon. While describing the situation as “very embarrassing”, the court accordingly, made an order increasing the salary of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to N10million, while that of justices of the Supreme Court and President of the Court of Appeal was increased to N9m.
The court also increased salaries of Court of Appeal Justices, Chief Judges, President of the Industrial Court, Grand Khadis and President of Customary Courts to N8m, even as it ordered FG to forthwith, pay N7m to other judges monthly.
The judge said: “There is no doubt that from evidence adduced before this court that salaries payable to judges as well as their conditions of service, has been greatly altered to their disadvantage. Judicial officers are daily impoverished by the devaluation of the naira.
“They have suffered financial hardship and embarrassment owing to their poor pay. It is a shame to the country. In spite of this, our judges have continued to carry out their statutory duties. Justices are themselves victims of a great injustice. What an irony”, Justice Obaseki- Osagie added.
Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osagie, directed that the order should be served on the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
She held that judges in the country have the right to have their salaries reviewed upwards periodically, adding that the NIC, being the court that determines labour and employment related matters, has the constitutional power to compel FG, through its agencies, to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers.
The court equally awarded N1.5m cost against RMAFC, the AGF and the National Assembly, who were all cited as defendants in the matter.