Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Engr. Elias Mbam, Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), to review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian judges, and downward those of high-ranking political office-holders.
SERAP also urged him “to send your review and recommendations to the National Assembly for appropriate remedial and legislative action, as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended).”
The letter followed the nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) demanding financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government’s silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded courts across the country.
In the letter dated 10 April 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Judges should get all to which they are reasonably entitled, and it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat judges as ‘second-class people’ while high-ranking political office-holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.”
According to SERAP, “While the remuneration and allowances of judges are grossly insufficient to enable them to maintain themselves and their families in reasonable comfort, high-ranking political office-holders continue to enjoy lavish allowances, including life pensions, and access to security votes, which they have powers to spend as they wish.”
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office-holders.”
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office-holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.”
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
The letter was copied to Dr Ahmad Lawan, Senate President; Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of House of Representatives; Mr Ekpo Nta, Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC); and the National Judicial Council.