Contrary to recent media reports speculating various figures the nation’s Judicial Officers earn annually, it has become necessary to lay bare at the public domain of what the jurists are paid or not paid.
A total of 1062 Judicial Officers, both at the Federal and State levels are in the pay rolls of the National Judicial Council (NJC). While N2, 256, 351, 435.33 (that is N2.3b approximately) was paid to the 248 Federal Judicial Officers including the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 2015, a sum of N6, 398, 303, 106.64 (N6.4b approximately) was paid as salaries and allowances to 814 state Judicial Officers. In other words, both the Federal and State Judicial Officers earn the sum of N8.7b as salaries and allowances per annum in Nigeria.
A further breakdown shows that the 248 Judicial Officers comprise of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, other Justices of the Supreme Court, President of the Court of Appeal, other Justices of the Court of Appeal, and Justices of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory High Court, National Industrial Court, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal and their heads.
By virtue of the ‘’Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008’’, CJN’s annual basic salary is N3,353,972.50 (or N279,497.71 monthly), while other Justices of the Supreme Court receive N2,477,110.00 as basic annual salary or N206,425.83 monthly.
These earnings are exclusive of tax. By the time other allowances are posted, the CJN and other Justices of the Supreme Court receives monthly salary alert of N480, 766.89 and N751, 000 in their bank accounts respectfully. The CJN’s net monthly salary is even lower than his Lordship’s Brother Justices because of deductions made on account of other monetary and material provisions such as food items, which are provided to him by the Federal Government.
Again, among the misconceptions given in the said dailies were such that Judges are paid furniture, accommodation, leave and accommodation allowances on monthly basis. Judges stay in the government quarters and cannot at the same time being paid accommodation allowance.
Furniture, allowance is paid every four years, while the leave allowance is earned once in a year. The car loan facility also added in their calculations is optional; it is a benefit noticed more in the papers than the beneficiaries.
Come to think of it, out of N73 billion appropriated for the Judiciary in 2015, the State Judiciary recurrent was N10.77b and that of the Federal was N41.60b; adding up to N52.33b as total recurrent. The capital for the Federal was N16.92b, the capital for the State Judiciary form part of the State government budgets.
Behold, if the Nigeria Judicial Officers gulp up N33.47b out of N52.33b, what then is left to absorb the overheads, salaries and wages of the administrative staff of the Courts, National Judicial Council, Federal Judicial Service Commission, National Judicial Institute, Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, Body of Benchers and so on?
Take for instance, in 2015; N7.00b was appropriated for the Supreme Court by the National Assembly. Out of that, while N304, 137,542.21 was budgeted for the ‘’consolidated salary of Justices’’ of the Supreme Court, N1, 122,909,366.76 , N2,795,953,091.03 and N2,777,000,000.00 were budgeted for the Supreme Court staff salary, overhead and capital respectively.
In other words, the Supreme Court staff salary appropriation was almost four times that of the Justices of the apex court.
The Court of Appeal in the same 2015 appropriation got N11.10b, which was made up of N1.214b consolidated salary of Justices of the Court of Appeal, N2, 699b personnel, N4.699b Overhead (including Election Tribunal) and N2.496b capital.
These are the patterns of disbursement with the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory High Court, National Industrial Court and Customary Court of Appeal (FCT) that got N12.1b, N7.0b, N5.6b and N3.05b respectively. It is therefore questionable to say that N33,47b was incurred by the CJN and the rest of Judicial Officers annually out of the miserable budgetary figures appropriated for the Judiciary year after the year.
To be continued