By Myke Uzendu, Abuja
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to increase the salaries of judges over those of President Muhammadu Buhari, governors, lawmakers and other political office holders.
The group further urged the RMAFC Chairman, Elias Mbam, to underkate an upward review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian judges, as well as a downward review of the remuneration and allowances of high ranking political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of judges.
SERAP also urged the commission “to send it’s review and recommendations to the National Assembly for appropriate remedial and legislative action, as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended).
This is contained in a letter from SERAP addressed to RMAFC following the nationwide industrial action embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria over financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government.
In the letter dated April 10, 2021, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “Judges should get all to which they are reasonably entitled, and it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat judges as ‘second-class people’ while high-ranking political office-holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
“The remuneration and allowances of judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as President, Vice-President, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
“Nigerian judges are among the least paid in the world. The poor treatment of judges is neither fair to them nor to the Nigerian people. Judges deserve remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service commensurate with their judicial powers and responsibilities.”
“While the remuneration and allowances of judges are grossly insufficient to enable them to maintain themselves and their families in reasonable comfort, high-ranking political office-holders continue to enjoy lavish allowances, including life pensions, and access to security votes, which they have powers to spend as they wish.”