“Are you saying judges don’t have the right to ask for a salary review?” — Judge takes on FG’s lawyer – The Whistler Newspaper

There was concern at the National Labor Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday when a lawyer representing the Federation Attorney General’s office implied in his argument that magistrates are government employees who do not have the right to demand an upward revision of their salaries. .

Judge Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osagie, who presided over the body which requested the upward revision of the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers, was taken aback by the words of the lawyer of the AGF.

The plaintiff had argued that the Chief Justice of Nigeria had earned 3.4 million naira a year for the past 14 years and requested the court to order an upward revision of CJN’s salary to 12 million naira per month for Supreme Court Justices and between 7 and 10 million Naira per month for the respective Justices. lower court judges.

AGF’s lawyer, Me Ekene. E, while adopting his final written speech in the case, challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the complaint filed by a number of senior attorneys represented by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN.

AGF’s attorney argued that he is not claiming that bailiffs are not entitled to better salaries, but that the plaintiff has failed to disclose sufficient reasons as to how he is directly affected. by the case to even come to court.

He said the appropriate party to appear in court is either a judicial officer or the statutory body with responsibility for salary review.

“We’re saying that NASS and the Revenue Commission had already determined bailiff salaries,” he said.

He added that the National Wage and Income Commission had the power to recommend a salary review, but was not a party to the case.

But the president of the court intervenes by saying: “Is this part of your speech? You can’t go there.

“Are you saying that lower salary reviews for Supreme Court justices is not a legal right! Is that what you’re saying?, the judge fumed at the lawyer.

The attorney for the AGF went on to say that the plaintiff is trying to force the court to set a new salary for the judges, a responsibility that falls to an agency of the federal government.

“Mr. Ekene E. limit yourself to your submission, do not go beyond”, again challenged the judge.

Counsel for the plaintiff also asked counsel for the AGF to stick to his previous position on the jurisdiction of the court and not raise new issues that would need to be answered.

Judge Asked What Was Sensitive About Upgrading Nigerian Judges Salary

“For 14 years, Nigerian judges everywhere have had the same salary,” the judge said.

For his part, the plaintiff, Awomolo, stated that his introductory summons mainly concerns the question of whether the first (National Assembly) and the second defendant (Commission for the allocation of revenue and tax mobilization) can refuse , failing and neglecting to raise the basic salaries and allowances of judicial officials. as mentioned in the 1999 constitution as amended.

He said: “The second question is whether public officials can be compelled by the court for breaching their constitutional responsibility.

“We submit that this court has the power to order these public officials to perform their constitutional duties.”

He added that, significantly, the Revenue Commission which is directly involved in the case received lawsuits but refused to appear in court.

“All the parties agreed unanimously that the last adjustment of the salaries of the judicial officers dates back to 2008, none of them justified the reason for the refusal to review the salaries of the magistrates.

“Help bailiffs with an order.

“Grant the plaintiff’s claims,” ​​he said.

But National Assembly lawyer Charles Yoila insisted that the suit as currently constituted against the lawmakers is incompetent and must be dismissed for incompetence of the court.

NASS argued that it should not have been dragged into the lawsuit.

“The plaintiff is a stranger to the case, it is very clear that he is only a lawyer and not a judicial officer and this does not directly affect him,” NASS said, adding that it is the right party who should appear in court, not the plaintiff.

“We ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit,” the lawmakers said through their attorney.

Citing the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act, the Yoila argued that a pre-action notice should have been issued to the legislative chambers, including the course of action and the remedies sought three months before such actions would take place. be brought before a court.

“We urge the court to strike the name of the National Assembly from the suit,” the NASS lawyer asked.

For the National Council of the Judiciary, (4th defendant), he supported the calls for the revision of the salaries of magistrates.

“The implication to date is that some bailiff laws have been declared obsolete by the federal government at the official rate of over N400 to 1 US dollar.

“At the exchange rate, the salary of judicial officers in 2008 is currently a disadvantage for them.

“No one can say that the purchasing power of judges in 2008 is the same as it is today based on the value of the naira against the US dollar,” said NJC lawyer Kunle Adegoke SAN.

“Don’t mention my salary because it will be a national disgrace,” the judge said as he interjected.

The CNM considered that the judiciary cannot operate independently with such low budget allocations.

The NJC further argued that it is a breach of duty for the federal government to refuse to review judges’ salaries over the past 14 years.

“The Political, Public and Judicial Officials Act should be struck down by the court,” the CNM said.

After hearing the parties, the judge set July 15 for the judgment.