HomeNewsJudges’ Salaries Last Reviewed 17 Years Ago - AGF

Judges’ Salaries Last Reviewed 17 Years Ago – AGF


The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN); the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, and the Nigerian Bar Association, on Monday, supported the call for the increase in salaries of judges in the country, which they said was last reviewed 17 years ago.

The AGF, the CJN and others gave support at a public hearing on “A Bill for an Act to Prescribe the Salaries and Allowances and Fringe Benefits of Judicial Officeholders in Nigeria and Related Matters Bill, 2024,” organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

The House of Representatives had on March 20 passed the bill which provides a monthly package of N5.39m for the CJN.

In his address at the event, the AGF said, “Let me commence by commending the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this committee for their continuing commitment to advancing the administration of justice and promoting the welfare of the judiciary.

“Distinguished Senators may kindly note that the efforts to improve the remuneration of our judicial officers have a chequered history.

“These efforts commenced with the previous administration with the setting up of a Committee on the Review of Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service (HAGF Committee) by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in 2018.

“It will be recalled that the HAGF Committee’s mandate was meant to serve as a special presidential intervention designed to improve the working condition of judicial officers and institutionalise a specialised system that would reasonably guarantee the welfare of our judicial officers.

“However, the recommendations of the committee were not actioned.”

According to the AGF, in the committee’s report, between May 1999 and March 2011, the Federal Government reviewed the salaries and allowances of public servants and political officeholders on four occasions, specifically in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2011.

He noted that new regimes of national minimum wage were also put in place within the same period, though the salaries of judicial officers were reviewed twice during the same period.

“This bill will birth an appropriate and commensurate remuneration that will ensure judicial independence and integrity. I strongly commend this bill for your kind consideration and I do urge the Senate to support and ensure the passage of this bill in the national interest of promoting the rule of law,” he said.

“The present-day but sad reality is that the judiciary has stagnated on the same salary scale for over 16 years, this is totally unacceptable and quite antithetical to any meaningful judicial reform,” the AGF added.

On his part, Justice Ariwoola noted that Nigerians would suffer the consequences of the nation’s current judiciary if the salaries and other emoluments of judges were not upwardly reviewed.

Represented by the Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah, the CJN noted that the salaries were last reviewed in 2007.

 “When judges are well compensated, yes, they do their best. But actually, as clearly demonstrated, the real interest that is being looked at is the interest of these citizens because they will be the ones who suffer the consequences of a deprived judiciary.

“It has been 17 years, earning the same amount despite the tumultuous depreciation in the purchasing power, while other sectors have theirs reviewed several times over the period. Judicial officers have been in silence,” he said.

In his words, the pay package of judicial officers had dwindled over the years, considering the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.

“As a simple illustration, the exchange rate of the US dollar was N130.25 at the time the salary was fixed in 2007 and this exchange rate can be found on page 11 of the June 2009 Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission review report that is the source of the exchange rate as of the time it was fixed.

“Therefore, as of 2007 when the salaries were fixed, a judge’s monthly gross pay before tax of N661,738 divided by 130.25 equal to $5,080. Today, when divided by just N1,500, it is $441.

“A salary of $5,080 has now dwindled to $441 only when it was fixed. In today’s terms, the value is equal to N7,000,600,” the CJN said.

He lauded the government of President Bola Tinubu for his commitment to the welfare of judicial officers, saying, “However, by the historic instrumentality of the 10th National Assembly, and unequalled disposition of Mr President to enhance the administration of justice, the current appropriation law captures an anticipated equivalent of the above example at a gross monthly salary of N3.2m.

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“It is evident from the foregoing that even the appropriated salary package is less than half the value of the salaries that were fixed in 2007.”

Likening the poor remuneration of Nigerian judges to a patient gasping for breath in an intensive care unit, the CJN said, “Distinguished Senators, in a nutshell, what we are saying is this: The situation of judges across Nigeria is like one on a critical condition in the ICU.

“The proposed bill would stabilise the patient. The captain in the appropriation door would have him moved from the ICU to the general ward. When a patient is in that condition, you don’t start physiotherapy at the ICU. You make sure he is stabilised, move to the general ward, gain some strength, and then you now look at physiotherapy and all other therapists. That is the nutshell of our presentation.

“Do move quickly the patient out of the ICU to the general ward and then, we will come. For now, let’s stabilise the patient, move him out of ICU and then we can talk about the rest later.”

On his part, the Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, said improved salaries for judicial officers would enhance the swift dispensation of justice in the country.

He stressed that President Tinubu remained committed to the welfare of Nigerian workers, including judicial officers.

“It is a continuation of that tradition (president’s commitment to the welfare of judges) that is now coming into effect and an attempt and an initiative to improve the lot of the judiciary.

“I’m very pleased to have been part of this opening ceremony. Listen to the Attorney General. He is the authority in government law.

“I cannot but follow him in commending this bill and requesting its swift passage to the benefit of the judiciary in particular and Nigerians in general,” Edun said.

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