A legal practitioner, Sebastine Hon (SAN), has berated the low wages being paid to Nigerian justices, saying the situation presents a dangerous trend in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Drawing comparism between Nigerian justices and justices of United States of America, Hon said justices of Supreme Court in Nigeria earn lower than magistrates in the United States of America.
According to him, the recent interview granted by respected Justice Emeritus of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Olufunmilola Adekeye, on the squalid conditions of service of judicial officers in Nigeria, both during and after service, was most embarrassing, to say the least. Justice Adekeye was quoted as saying that a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria earns less than N1 million monthly, while justices of the Supreme Court retire into squalor, so much so that she was personally retiring to a very un befitting accommodation, as does her other colleagues.
Hon therefore recommended that the least ranked judicial officer in Nigeria should take home not less than N1 million as basic salary, while Supreme Court Justices should take home not less than N5 million basic monthly salary, with justices of the Court of Appeal and judges of the High Court and other courts in that grade taking home not less than N4 million basic monthly salaries, respectively.
His words: “my investigations reveal that even a magistrate in the U.S.A earns more than a justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court and that a justice of the U.S Supreme Court earns four times more than a justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court… The chief justice of the U.S.A earns $223,500 basic annual salary. If converted to naira, that will stand at N33.5 million… almost four times more than what the chief justice of Nigeria takes as his basic annual salary, going by the provisions of the salaries and allowances of certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders Act, 2008.
Also, whereas an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S.A earns an annual basic salary of $213,900, which translates to N32.08 million, his Nigerian counterpart earns an annual basic salary of N10.8 million…. From 1987, the salary of a magistrate in the U.S.A has been pegged at 92 per cent of the basic salary of a district court judge. And a district court judge’s basic annual salary is $174,000, which translates to N26,100,000. This is N16 million more than what a justice of the Supreme Court takes home annually in Nigeria! Also, 92 per cent of $174,000 is $160,000. If we convert this to naira, we will have N24 million… This is the annual salary of a magistrate in the U.S.A, which is more than the annual basic salary of a Supreme Court justice by N14 million!
He then added: “If we can hire a foreign coach and pay him up to N10 million monthly, I wonder why we should decidedly agree to pay peanuts to our judicial officers, thereby encouraging corruption.”
Culled from the Guardian