President of the National Industrial Court Honourable Justice Babatunde Adejumo has dismissed speculations that the death of two judges of the NIC over the past two weeks may have been caused by delayed payment of salaries and deplorable working environment.
Adejumo argued that the deaths were coincidental, natural and not triggered by either load of work, poor salary earnings or delayed salary payments. According to him, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, is one of the superior courts of record, and judicial officers in this court earn their salaries through National Judicial Council (NJC) that collects such funds on first line charge. He said,
“We are not owing our judicial officers, and indeed our workers, any salaries, just as no judicial officer is suffering from any work over-loads.”
“Those deaths are natural just as the sequence or frequency you talked about are coincidental. There is nothing untoward about any death. Once it is time there is little or nothing anyone can do about it’’.
Justice Adejumo was reacting to the concern raised by stakeholders in the judiciary over the frequently recorded death of justices of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN). Those who spoke to Leadership Newspaper said the development could be as a result of either delayed payment or poor salaries and wages earned by the judges. They also noted that apart from poor remuneration, the working environment of justices of the NICN is deplorable, compared to that of justices of the regular courts. According to Leadership Newspaper, one of the stakeholders who did not want his name in print said;
“The condition under which judges of the Industrial Court of Nigeria work is pitiable. This is coupled with the fact that they are not paid good salaries like their colleagues in the regular courts.”
“With the load of work these justices handle from cases before them, you don’t expect them to be psychologically stable in doing the job when they have family problems to grapple with.”
“That is why judges of the regular courts are treated well in terms of welfare, considering the arduous tasks which the dispensation of justice demands”.
It would be recalled that that Justice Auwal Ibrahim Presiding judge of Port Harcourt Division of the NIC died of heart failure on Monday February 26, 2018 while Justice Lawal Mani, Presiding judge of NIC Kaduna Division reportedly died at the age of 63 after a protracted illness. Both Judges have been buried.