The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has begun the process to ensure the downward review of salaries, remunerations of the country’s highest political office holders, including that of President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, 36 governors, and members of the National Assembly.
Toward achieving the cut in salaries and remuneration, the human rights group has approached the high court in Abuja to order the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to perform their statutory functions and begin immediate review.
SERAP argued that slashing jumbo pay for these high-ranking political office-holders would reduce the unfair pay disparity between political officer holders and judicial officers, address the persistent poor treatment of judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice and effective remedies.
In the suit number, FHC/ABJ/CS/658/2021 filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo, was seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel the RMAFC to perform its mandatory constitutional duty to urgently review upward the remuneration, salaries, and allowances, as well as the conditions of service for Nigerian judges.
According to SERAP, while 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, the remuneration and allowances of judges are grossly insufficient to enable them to maintain themselves and their families in reasonable comfort.
“The huge pay disparity between these high-ranking political officer-holders and judges is unfair, unjust, and discriminatory, especially given the roles of judges to the people and the country. While the government reviewed upward the salaries and allowances of political office holders on four occasions between May 1999 and March 2011, the salaries and allowances of judicial officers were only reviewed twice during the same period,” the suit read.
The human rights organisation also described the current disparity and alleged ill-treatment of judges as unfair, discriminatory, and unconstitutional.
“Despite their important roles and responsibilities, Nigerian judges are poorly treated, particularly when their remuneration, salaries, allowances, and conditions of service are compared with that of political office-holders. Judges should not have to endure the most poignant financial worries,” it said.
Joined in the suit as respondents are Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for themselves, and on behalf of all members of the Senate and House of Representative; and the National Judicial Council.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.