As part of the discussion on judicial autonomy, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has called on the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) to consider the review of the salaries of judicial officers in the country.
The governor made this call, on Monday, in Ado-Ekiti during the swearing-in ceremony of Justice Oyewole Adeyeye as the acting Chief Judge of Ekiti State, held at the conference hall of the governor’s office.
Fayemi who acknowledged the contribution of the immediate past Chief Judge who has just retired, Justice Ayodeji Daramola, to the development of the justice sector in the state, also thanked the state judiciary as a whole, for their positive role during Daramola’s tenure, specifically in ensuring access to justice for the people.
Speaking further, he said the incoming Chief Judge was coming at a time when there is a need for a focussed-broad based consultation on judicial sector reforms in this State. One of these reforms, according to the governor, is the joint agreement on financial autonomy for the state judiciary between the State Government, the NJC and JUSUN.
“The content of the Memorandum of Action requires that the three arms of government achieve a seamless implementation framework that is not only sustainable but is able to respond to the specific needs of the judiciary in this state,” he said.
He, however, said: “I have to add that I am concerned that the negotiations on judicial autonomy seem to have left out a discussion on one issue that appears to be more fundamental, pressing and urgent. That is the issue of salaries and allowances of judicial officers. Regrettably, the NJC and JUSUN did not make this an agenda item in their negotiations with the Federal and State governments.
“I am aware that between 1999 till date, the Federal Government reviewed the salaries and allowances of Public Servants and Political officeholders on four occasions specifically in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2011. However, the salaries of judicial officers were only reviewed twice during the same period.
“As a result, judicial officers have been on the same salary structure for more than 10 years. It may now be necessary for the NJC to provide leadership on possible renewed negotiations on this issue as part of a holistic discussion on judicial autonomy.”
Fayemi later spoke about the closure of courts, the dearth of female judges on the bench and the increasing cases of sexual violence in Ekiti State.
Harping on the issue of sexual violence in the state, he urged Ekiti judges to review the rules and court procedures in a manner that will ensure the prioritisation and speedy consideration of matters of sexual violence in the State.
The State’s Attorney General and commissioner for justice, Olawale Fapohunda, Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, Secretary to the state government, Biodun Oyebanji, Ekiti State head of service, Mrs Peju Babafemi and other top government and judicial officers were also present at the event.