Judicial officers salaries bill ‘ll ensure independence – Justice Minister

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The Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi says the bill on salaries of judicial office holders will ensure judicial independence and integrity.

Fagbemi said this at a public hearing on “A Bill for an Act to Prescribe the Salaries, Allowances and Fringe Benefits of Judicial Office Holders in Nigeria” organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on Monday in Abuja.

The bill was an Executive bill forwarded to the National Assembly by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in accordance with provisions of Section 58(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The bill sought to prescribe salaries, allowances and fringe benefits for judicial officers in order to nip in the bud, the prolonged stagnation in their remuneration to reflect the contemporary socio-economic realities of the time.

Fagbemi said that the bill would birth an appropriate and commensurate remuneration that would ensure judicial independence and integrity.

The present-day but sad reality is that the judiciary has stagnated on the same salary scale for over 16 years, this is totally unacceptable and quite antithetical to any meaningful judicial reform.

“I strongly commend this bill for your kind consideration and do urge the Senate to support and ensure the passage of this bill in national interest of promoting the rule of law,” he said.

He said that the efforts to improve the remuneration of judicial officers had a chequered history.

Swift passage of bill

Also speaking, the Minster of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, commended the national assembly for considering the bill.

He called for the swift passage of the bill for the benefit of the judiciary in particular and Nigerians in general.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola said that the salaries of judicial officers were last reviewed in 2007.

Ariwoola, represented by the Chief Judge of Borno, Justice Kashim Zannah said that “it has been 17 years earning the same amount in spite of the tumultuous depreciation in purchasing power.

“This is while other sectors have theirs renewed several times over the period.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Mohammed Monguno said that the judicial officers were tasked with many difficult decisions that had far reaching consequences on individuals, communities and the country as a whole.

In spite of this, the salary and allowances of judicial officers have remained stagnant for far too long,” he said.

He said that the national assembly was committed to ensuring that reforms that would strengthen the judiciary is in tandem with best practices.

 

 

 

NAN

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