The National Assembly, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the attorney general of the federation, and the National Judicial Commission (NJC) have been sued over poor salaries for judges.
The National Industrial Court is hearing the lawsuit that proposes between N12 million and N7 million monthly for judges. The N12 million is for the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
During Monday’s proceeding, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Sebastien Tar, who sued them, had 32 SANs in his team of counsel.
S.A. Awomolo led the other SANs in the matter slated for mention before Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae.
Edward Erhinure led the team of 21 other lawyers in the matter.
When the matter came up, Mr Awomolo informed the court that all the defendants had been served with processes and were ready to proceed.
He, however, stated that Charles Yiola, the counsel to the first defendant, National Assembly had earlier in the court, informed him of the possibility of settlement.
Mr Yiola submitted that the only document he had seen in the matter was the hearing notice they got in connection to Monday’s court sitting.
After going through the court’s record, the judge told him that proof of service of the originating summons served on May 6 was in the file.
Mr Yiola further said that he had been told to mention to the claimant to be patient as NASS was ready to look into the matter for possible settlement.
Mr Awomolo, in response, said that the matter was of national importance and not a case to be adjourned and adjourned indefinitely.
He, therefore, urged the court for a week adjournment to enable parties to discuss, agree or disagree and come back to court for either report of settlement or a hearing of the originating summons.
Mr Yiola replied that a week was short as NASS was embarking on industrial action Monday, and he needed time to make a presentation to NASS for its adoption.
The judge, therefore, adjourned the matter until June 22 for a report of settlement or hearing of the originating summons.
She also directed that a hearing notice should be served on the second, third and fourth defendants who were not in court nor their legal representation.
In his statement of facts, the claimant stated that he was called to the bar in 1991 and elevated to the Inner Bar in 2008.
Mr Tar said he was aspiring to be appointed either a justice of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal or at least a judge of the high court, but the salaries and allowances paid to the judges are too poor for him, given the current socio-economic crises.
“The poor mode of determining or reviewing such salaries and allowances is also scaring me from applying to be appointed to any of the Benches mentioned above even though I am ably and fittingly qualified to apply and be appointed,” Mr Tar said.
He is urging the court to grant commensurate salaries and other payments to be reasonable regarding the existing socio-economic and other factors.
Mr Tar proposed a minimum monthly salary of N12 million for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, and N11 million monthly for each justice of the Supreme Court.
He proposed N11 million for the president of the Court of Appeal and N10 million for each justice of the same court; N10 million monthly for the chief judge of the Federal High Court, the first claimant is proposing N10 million as the monthly salary, N8 million each for other judges of the same court.
As for the president of the National Industrial Court and each of the judges of the same court, a minimum monthly salary of N10 million and N9 million, respectively, is being proposed by Tar.
He recommended a minimum monthly pay of N8 million for the chief judge of each state high court, including the FCT, and N7 million for each judge of the same court.
In addition, he suggested N8 million as the minimum monthly pay for the Grand Khadi of Sharia Court, N8 million for the Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the FCT, and N7 million for the president of the Customary Court of Appeal of the FCT.
The justices and judges currently earn about N2 million and below as their minimum monthly salaries.