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Judicial Officers Know Fate July 15 As Court Delivers Judgement In Suit Seeking Upward Review Of Salaries 

The National Industrial Court, Abuja, has fixed July 15  for judgement in a suit seeking upward review of salaries of judicial officers in the country.

Justice Osatohanmeen Obaseki-Osagie, fixed the date after the parties in the matter, argued and adopted their final addresses on Tuesday.

The matter filed by the claimant, Chief Sebastine Hon (SAN), has the National Assembly (1st Defendant), the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (2nd Defendant), and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (3rd Defendant) and National Judicial Council as the 4th Defendant.

At the sitting, Tuesday, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) represented the Claimant, Charles Yoila announced appearance for National Assembly (1st Defendant), Ekene Elodimuo Principal State Counsel, Federal Ministry of Justice represented the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (3rd Defendant), while Kunle Adegoke appeared for the National Judicial Council (4th Defendant).

Subsequently, the claimant is praying the court to compel the defendants to increase the salaries and allowances of judges in the country.

An affidavit filed by Hon, in support of the originating summons, averred that as a legal practitioner, “who has practiced 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 claimed that the current economic reality in the country requires that the salaries and allowances of the nation’s judges be urgently improved upon.

He argued that all the parties unanimously agreed that the last salary adjustment of the claimants was done in 2008, and that none of the defendants had justified the reason for refusal to obey the constitutional provision.

Awomolo said the treatment meted to the claimants under 84(4) of the constitution must be redressed.

“We have moved from mere technicalities to substantial justice. So I urge court to hold the AGF to his public statements admitting poor remuneration of judicial officers”  He said.

Arguing his brief, Counsel to the NJC, Kunle Adegoke, urged the court to uphold the suit, stressing that salaries of judicial officers have been stagnant for over 14 years without review.

Objecting the view of the NASS and AGF that the claimant lacks the locus standi to institute the suit, the NJC counsel reminded the court that the issue of locus standi has been liberalized all over the world especially when an issue borders on public interest.

He insisted that the NASS and the AGF have failed in their duty to better the remuneration of judicial office holders, and submitted that Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders Act 2008 is inconsistent with section 84(3) of the constitution.

Adegoke called for modification of the Act to bring it to conformity with the provision of the constitution.

The NASS, through its counsel, Charles Yoila, while adopting his preliminary objection contended that the suit ought to be dismissed for being incompetent.

,Counsel to the AGF, Ekene Elodimuo, who argued that the claimant has no locus standi to institute the suit, challenged the propriety of the suit against the 1st Defendant without issuing pre-action notice as contained section 21 of Legislative Powers and Priviledges Act 2017.

The AGF said the claimant is just like every other lawyer and that the cause of action does not directly affect him. He urged the court to dismiss the suit.

On issuance of pre action notice, “it is the law that pre action notice be issued to legislative houses disclosing the cause of action and reliefs before such action is brought to court”.

After listening to their arguments, the court adjourned till July 15, for judgement

Manuels Effe


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