The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called for a slash in the pay of many political office holders, including the President, Vice-President, governors and their deputies as well as lawmakers.SERAP, a Non Governmental Organisation, made the call in a statement by its Director, Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare, and addressed to the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mr. Elias Mbam, on Sunday in Lagos.
Mr. Oluwadare urged the Commission to “urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian judges, and to review downward the remuneration and allowances of high-ranking political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of judges, and to improve access of victims of corruption to justice.”
SERAP also requested the Commission “to send your review and recommendations to the National Assembly for appropriate remedial and legislative action, as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution 1999, as amended.”
The request is a response to the nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government’s silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded courts across the country.
“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,” the statement said.
“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,” SERAP said.
It noted that in spite of their important roles and responsibilities, Nigerian judges are poorly treated when their remuneration, salaries, allowances, and conditions of service are compared with political office-holders.
SERAP therefore stated that “if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”