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SAN sues NASS, AGF, others over judges’ poor salaries

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Sebastiane Hon has instituted a lawsuit against the National Assembly (NASS), the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), over the poor salary earned by judges in Nigeria.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2022 filed before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, the senior advocate is asking the court to compel the defendants to increase the salaries and allowances of judges in the country.

The senior advocate said he filed the suit as a concerned legal practitioner in Nigeria.

What the SAN is saying

In an affidavit in support of the originating summon, Hon contended that with the current economic reality in Nigeria, salaries and allowances of judges ought to be increased.

He said, “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 noted that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is the highest-paid judicial officer earns about N3.4 million per annum which is below what others are paid outside the country.

He said salaries and allowances of judges have not been reviewed for the past 14 years despite the depreciation of the Naira vis-à-vis other global currencies like the US dollars, the British pound sterling and the European Union (EU) euro, etc.

“As of November 2008 when the amended Act was in force, the exchange rate between the naira and the US dollar was N117.74 to USD1.

“The naira has considerably lost its value over time; but judicial officers in Nigeria have been placed on the same salary scale for up to 12 years, namely since 2008.

“Even foreigners who have been hired from time to time to coach Nigeria’s national football teams earn higher than Nigeria’s judicial officers,” Mr Hon said.

What you should know

  • The senior advocate is seeking an order compelling the defendants to forthwith activate measures to urgently review judicial officers’ pay, raising that of the CJN to a minimum of N12million monthly, N11million for other Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal President; N10million for other Justice of the Appeal Court, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and President of the National Industrial Court (NIC).
  • He also sought a declaration that by a combined reading of the provisions of sections 6(1)(b) and (d) and Parts A and B of the First Schedule to the Revenue Allocation Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act, Cap. R7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, it is unconstitutional for the 2nd defendant (RMAFC) to refuse or neglect to upwardly review the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers notwithstanding the changing local and international socio-economic realities.
  • He is also seeking the court to compel the defendants to raise the monthly minimum take-home of a judge of the National Industrial Court to N9million; N8million for Chief Judges of High Court of state and the Federal Capital Territory, while the other judges are entitled to N7m.
  • He is also seeking for an order compelling RMAFC or any other body assigned its responsibilities, “to, in perpetuity, review and continue to embark upon and carry out, in conjunction with the 3rd defendant (AGF), a yearly or at most a two-yearly review of the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers listed above, with a view to making the said salaries and emolument realistic and befitting of the offices and duties attached to/exercised by such offices.”