The judiciary is in a very bad shape- says Appeal Court President
- “Your Welfare is being looked into by the President” – AGF
By Frank Ajufo
President of the Appeal Court, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem says without true independence, effective operations of the Judicial Arm of Government as envisaged by the Constitution will continue to remain elusive.
Justice Dongban-Mensem who stated this in Abuja during her speech at the opening of 2021/2022 legal year, lamented that Nigerian Judges have continued to earn far less salaries than their colleagues in other climes.
Citing the Political, Public and Judicial Officers Holders Salaries and Allowances Amendment Act 2008, she regretted that wages of Judges have remained stagnant for about 14 years, leaving a yearning gap when compared with wages of Judges in South Africa.
According to the Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (salaries and Allowances, etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008, the CJN’s monthly salary is N279,497.71; other Justices of the Supreme Court receive 206, 425.83; Justices of the Appeal Court N166,285.84, exclusive if benefits and allowances.
The Appeal Court President therefore, called on the Federal and State Governments to live up to their obligations under the law.
“I am having sleepless nights and I shall continue to pray that our condition improves, because our conditions of service do not really lie in our hands. I am happy that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House is here. They are the ones that allocate to us, they know what they give to us, far below what we ask for. And there is hardly nothing we can do.
“But the President is the head, so we will appreciate that he is duly informed of our predicament. That the judiciary is really in a very bad shape. We need help. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice is here, our Governor the Minister of FCT is here and Fasola is also here. We pray that they would be our mouthpiece when the issue is mentioned at the Federal Executive Council.”
In a remark, Attorney General of General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) revealed that the Executive Arm of Government is once more revisiting the issue of the welfare of Judicial Officers to enhance efficiency in the sector.
Malami admonished judges to strive to uphold the uniformity, consistency and universality of court judgements and rulings in the face of judicial precedent of Nigeria’s judicial system.
“Your resolve as temple of justice in ensuring that justice is not trivialized to a common bargain and is in effect accessible to all is highly commendable.
“I hereby extend a call of solidarity, reverence and respect for the Courts and court processes to all our Learned Distinguished Colleagues here present to ensure that justice is not trivialized to a commodity bargained for and taken by the highest bidder, at the detriment of the indigent who for want of equal bargaining power, wallow in the shadows of judicial neglect.
“I am happy to inform you that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is revisiting the issue of the welfare of the judicial system generally.
“Very soon, the committee report which is being accorded attention by the President will certainly come to pass and the welfare of the judicial officers will in effect be enhanced to ensure greater efficiency of the system.”
Meanwhile, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA) Barr. Olumide Akpata, represented by Yakubu Maikyal, (SAN) appealed to Judges to always be mindful of their duties, stressing a corrupt judge is more dangerous than a man armed with a dagger.