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Review salaries of judicial officers ‘to reflect current economic realities’, Reps tell RMAFC

The house of representatives has called on the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to review the salary of judicial officers.

Recall that the lower legislative chamber passed the resolution during plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Onofiok Luke, a lawmaker from Akwa Ibom.

The development came weeks after Monica Dongban-Mensem, president of the court of appeal, asked the federal government to review the salaries of judges.

Speaking on the floor of the house, Luke said considering several economic factors and “inflationary pressure”, the salaries of judicial officers have “become totally at variance with current economic realities”.

He said the constitution restrains judicial officers from receiving gifts and operating private businesses except farming — to prevent them from any form of corrupt practices and improper conduct.

Luke also cited what he referred to as “the enormous and expanding responsibilities of the judiciary, owing to the country’s increasing population of over 200 million people, and the attendant financial implications for building new courts and refurbishing the existing ones aimed at greater access to justice by the people for effective and efficient justice delivery”.

“It is unfair, unconscionable, unjust and unrealistic that in the face of the several restrictions on the conduct of judicial officers, the judicial officers receive a meagre salary when compared with prevalent economic realities, thereby rendering them vulnerable to corruption,” he said.

“The budget for the judiciary has remained at N110 billion since 2017, while the total budget size has continued to grow, leading to gross underfunding and neglect of the judiciary over the years, which have affected productivity, increased frustration, and deflated the morale of judicial officers and staff.

“Poor remuneration of judicial officers is a serious threat to the judiciary, which is a critical institution of the state and starving them of funds compromises their foundational functions and could present misfortune for our democracy as the judicial officers may not maintain impartiality and independence in the discharge of their judicial functions.”

The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.

The lawmakers also mandated the house committee on judiciary to ensure compliance and report to the house within six weeks for further legislative action.

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