The Upper Chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday lamented the poor remuneration of judges in the country.
The Senate warned the development could make them compromise or become vulnerable to corruption in the course of their justice dispensation.
Opeyemi Bamidele, the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, stated this during the screening of the eight justices recently nominated by the Buhari from the Court of Appeal as justices of the Supreme Court.
The nominees are Justice Lawal Garba (North West), Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju, (South West), Hon. Justice Addu Aboki, Justice I. M. M. Saulawa, (North West), Justice Adamu Jauro, (North East), Justice Samuel C. Oseji, (South-South), Justice Tijjani Abubakar, (North East), and Justice Emmanuel A. Agim, (South-South)
Bamidele, however, bemoaned the poor welfare packages given judicial officers and justices in the country.
He said: “The present situation in the country as regards the welfare of judges and justices calls for a major intervention.”
“Salaries and allowances of judicial officers, judges, and justices in Nigeria were last reviewed in 2008 through an Act of Parliament.”
“As of that time, the exchange rate of naira to a US dollar was N117 as against N467 it is now, clearly showing that judges and justices salaries’ have been static over the years and even depreciating in value.”
“Specifically, the pay of each of the justices of the Supreme Court per annum as far as the basic salary was concerned was N2.477m, while those of the Court of Appeal was N1.995m each and judges of the high court, N1.804m each.”
“On a monthly basis, the total pay of a justice of the Supreme Court is N753,000 while the counterpart in the Court of Appeal was paid N608,000 and the High Court judges got N556,000.00 each.”
“The enumerated poor take-home packages for judges and justices, clearly show that they are not being fortified in any way against temptation on the line of duty.”
He also added that in South Africa, the chief justice collected the highest salary, besides members of his family being adequately taken care of to guard against temptation and corruption.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege said issues of judges’ remuneration were very critical and required urgent attention by the government, especially, the National Assembly.
He, however, challenged the federal lawmakers to sponsor a bill for the upward review of the 12 –year-old salary structure of the judicial officers, judges, and justices
A mild drama ensued among members of the committee on methods that should be adopted in screening the justices.