The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has asked the National Assembly to alter the constitution to mandate the National Judicial Council (NJC) to fix and review judges’ salaries every four years.
The CJN made this submission on Thursday in the paper he presented as recommendations of the judiciary on the occasion of the national public hearing by Senate Committee on review of the 1999 Constitution held at the Africa Hall of the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
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A 17-page paper to the Senate committee titled ‘Input by the Judiciary to the Proposed Alteration to the 1999 Constitution (as Amended)’’, contains 45 constitutional amendment proposals on reforms in the Nigerian judiciary.
In item 38, the CJN wants Part 1 of the Third Schedule Paragraph 21 to the Constitution be altered to include sub-paragraph ‘h’ to the effect that NJC should ‘’fix, in conjunction with Salaries and Wages Commission, salaries and other emoluments of judicial staff; in the case of judicial officers, to review such salaries no later than four years from the last exercise’’.
The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) reviewed judges’ salary by the enactment of, ’’Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008’’ which came into force on February 1, 2007 under Section 84(1) of the Act.
Since this Act have not been reviewed with effect from 2008, judges’ salaries have remained the same for about 13 years.
The CJN also asked for the constitution to be amended for NJC Secretary seat to be at par with that of the Clerk of the National Assembly.
The constitution he said should categorically states that the CJN is the head of the judiciary of the Federation; just as he called for the Supreme Court Bench be reduced from 21 to 16.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had in April announced the increased remuneration of judicial officers.
“Regarding the welfare package of our noble judicial officers, I must make reference to the Presidential mandate given in that regard, and I’m glad to inform that several meetings have been held, as a result of which the Committee on the Review of Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service was constituted to ensure that welfare of our judicial officers reflects current realities of our time,” he said.