*Denies operating secret account
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Supreme Court, yesterday, said there was no truth in the allegation that it operates a secret account from which its Justices, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, benefited from illegal withdrawal of funds.
The apex court, via a press statement by its Director, Press and Information, Dr. Akande Festus, maintained that salaries and allowances paid to its Justices were “either provided for or alluded to in the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders [Salaries and Allowances, etc.] [Amendment] Act, 2008.
It stated that the 2008 Amendment Act, among other things, made provisions for upward review of the annual basic salaries, allowances and fringe benefits of the Justices, adding that all approvals by the previous CJNs regarding allowances of apex court Justices, were in tandem with provisions of the Act and other extant laws.
It said the last approval which is still in operation, was done on July 13, 2010, through an Internal Memo with Ref. No. CJN/JAF/39/7.
In its bid to set the record straight, the apex court, revealed that its Justices individually collect the sum of $23, 400 as estacode per annum, as well as another £10, 000 as medical allowances.
According to the Supreme Court, “the pegging of this annual medical fee at £10,000 was a product of high discretion and commendable financial prudence to guard against a situation where varying medical bills that could even be as high as £50,000 or more would be submitted for reimbursement.”
It said contrary to “erroneous reports” being fed to the public, lawyers working at the Supreme Court were only paid N400, 000 Barrister Annual Robbing Allowance, while the Deputy Chief Registrars collect N500, 000.
Besides, the apex court said it was imperative but “saddening” for it to reveal to the world, that the CJN who steers affairs of the Nigerian judiciary, earns less than N500,000 per month.
It decried that monthly salary of the CJN, “is far less than what a Personal Assistant to someone else somewhere earns.”
The statement, entitled ‘RE-DETECTIVES UNCOVER HUGE CASH PAYMENTS TO JUSTICES’, read in part:
“Our attention has been drawn to a publication in The Nation newspaper of Monday, November 21, 2016 with the above caption. It is rather unfortunate that the said ‘’facts and figures” were hurriedly packaged and delivered to the public domain without due diligence in verifying them to ascertain their veracity and legality.
“The Supreme Court, like any other government institution, operates within the provisions of the Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and extant laws.
“In view of the information being peddled within the public space, we are thus obliged to offer clarifications and proper enlightenment on the issues in contention.
“Virtually all the salaries and allowances listed in the publication are either provided for or alluded to in the ‘’Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders [Salaries and Allowances, etc.] [Amendment] Act, 2008.
“For avoidance of doubt, Part II (B) of the Act, under the sub-head: ‘’Allowances and Fringe Benefits for Judicial Officers (Federal and State),” outlines the following categories to be covered by allowances and fringe benefits: Accommodation, Utilities, Domestic Staff, Entertainment, Medical Allowance, Security, Furniture allowance, Personal Assistant, Motor Vehicle Loan, Severance Gratuity, Retirement Benefit, Leave Allowance, Motor Vehicle and Fuel Allowance, Hardship Allowance, Newspaper Allowance, Estacode, Duty Tour Allowance, Outfit Allowance, Special Assistant, etc.”