THE Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has submitted a memorandum to the Revenue Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) on the review of judicial salaries and allowances.
This is according to a copy of a 144 paged memorandum jointly signed by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), and Olawale Fapohunda(SAN), the Alternate Chairman of the NBA Working Committee on Judicial Remuneration and Conditions of Service.
In the memo, the NBA makes a compelling case for an urgent radical review of Judicial Remuneration and proposes an ambitious 200% increase in the basic salaries of all Judicial Officers.
The NBA also proposed a total overhaul of the components of what presently constitutes judicial allowances.
It also recommended the removal of judicial office holders from the purview of RMFAC, and the establishment of a separate panel to oversee matters concerning Judicial Salaries and Allowances.
While submitting the report, the President of the NBA, Yakubu Maikyau welcomed the consultative process adopted by RMFAC led by its Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Shehu, while looking forward to further engagements with the Commission and other stakeholders on the subject matter.
The NBA President also advised that discussions on judicial remuneration should be time bound as there is a state of emergency as it relates to the conditions of service of judicial officers across the country, a state of affairs which he emphasized is not good for the administration of justice, the promotion of the rule of law and the sustainability of democracy in the country.
Highlights of the recommendations of the NBA working committee’s 144-page memo to the RMFAC include:
•Basic Salary: The Committee proposed 200% increase across the board for all judicial office holders.
•Medical Allowance: The Committee proposed 40% of the basic salary of all judicial office holders as Medical Allowance for minor ailments that do not require hospitalization, while other medical needs including overseas medical treatment and in-patient medical treatment in local medical institutions should be subject to necessary approvals that obtain currently.
• Rent Allowance. The Committee proposed 100% rent allowance for all Judicial Officers
• Leave Allowance: The Committee proposed 100% leave allowance paid once in a year so that it may realistically assist a Judicial Officer go on vacation within or outside Nigeria.
• Hardship Allowance: The Committee proposed an upward review of 100% for Judicial Officers. This is based on the findings of the Committee on workload and complexity of judicial work.
Proposed new allowances
The Committee proposed the following new allowances in recognition of the peculiar demands of the judicial office that deserve compensation but are not presently included in allowances available to judicial officers:
• Restrictive Lifestyle Allowance. The Committee proposed a 100% lifestyle allowance for all judicial officeholders in recognition of the limitations on the lifestyle of judicial officers imposed by the Judicial Code of Conduct.
• Dual Responsibility Allowance. The Committee proposed a 20% Dual Responsibility allowance for all heads of court in recognition of the peculiar burden inherent in the offices of the heads of courts.
• Disruptive Burden Allowance. The Committee proposed 50% Disruptive Burden Allowance for justices of the Court of Appeal, Judges of the Federal High Court, and the National Industrial Court in view of the frequency of their transfers including to mitigate the financial burden of maintaining two homes.
• Long Service Allowance. The Committee proposed a 10% Long Service Allowance payable monthly to judicial officers who have served on the bench for a minimum of 5 years.
• Legal Researchers Allowance. The Committee proposes a 70% monthly legal research allowance for all heads of courts, Justices of the Supreme Court, and Justices of the Court of Appeal.
• The Committee recommends delinking judicial remuneration from that of the civil service.
• The Committee recommends an independent new Judicial Salary Pay Scale be known as the Judicial Service Pay Scale (JSPS) to enable judicial salaries to be subject to regular reviews that are distinct from that carried out in respect of the civil service.
• The Committee recommends a separate legislative scheme for salaries, allowances, conditions of service, and retirement benefits for judicial officers.
• The Committee proposed a ‘Judicial Office Holders Entitlements Bill’ to create a Judicial Office Holders Entitlements Panel to replace the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission as it relates to the Judiciary. This will also require a constitutional amendment.