Peace Talk in Suit Against NASS, AGF, NJC Seeking Judges’ Salary Review Collapses

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Attempts for an out-of-court settlement in a suit filed against the National Assembly (NASS) Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Judicial Council (NJC) seeking a general review of wages for Judges in Nigeria have collapsed.

The suit filed by Chief Sebastine (SAN) could not be amicably settled as NASS which proposed the out-of-court settlement could not bring the parties together for talk and the AGF, who was supposed to be a party to the out-of-court settlement has filed counter-affidavit and preliminary objection against the suit.

At the Wednesday proceedings, Counsel to the AGF, Ekene Elodimuo confirmed to the National Industrial Court in Abuja that his client (AGF) is desirous of going with the court hearing of the suit and has filed the necessary processes.

The NJC, on its part, has also engaged the services of a Senior Kunle Adegoke (SAN) to present its position in the determination of the suit.

Chief Adgboyega Awomolo (SAN), who stood for the plaintiff told Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae that the AGF had served on him his counter-affidavit and preliminary objection indicating that the June 6 proposed out-of-court settlement has collapsed and asked the court to proceed with the hearing of the originating Summons of his client.

However, counsel to the NJC, Kunle Adegoke (SAN), pleaded with the Judge to grant him a short adjournment to enable him to file necessary processes in respect of the matter.

He informed the court that the NJC briefed him less than 24 hours ago and that he needed time to study the originating summons and file his response.

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Counsel for the plaintiff (Awomolo) did not oppose the request for adjournment but however pleaded with the court to allow a hearing in the matter on Monday, June 27.

In a brief ruling, Justice Obaseki-Osaghae granted the request for adjournment by the NJC but fixed June 28, 2022, for the hearing of the suit.

The proceedings were attended by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olumide Akpata, Femi Falana (SAN) and over 30 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

Joined in the suit as a defendant along with NASS, AGF and the NJC, is Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), which was not represented in court by any Lawyer.

The plaintiff is praying the court compels the defendants (AGF, NJC NASS) to increase the salaries and allowances of judges in Nigeria.

In a supporting affidavit to the originating summons, the plaintiff stated that as a legal practitioner, “who has practised 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 and the discharge of other functions associated with their offices.”

He argued that the current economic reality in the country requires that the salaries and allowances of the nation’s judges be urgently improved upon and pointed out that the highest-paid judicial officer in Nigeria – the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) – currently earns about N3.4 million per annum, far below what is earned by such an officer in other countries.

At the proceedings of June 6, the National Assembly had asked the court to allow an out-of-court settlement in the suit.

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