*…begs for upward review of salaries of justices; 33,647 appeals pending
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA
President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, on Monday, urged the Federal Government to urgently review the salaries of judicial officers in the country, asking for 45 Prado, 81 Hilux Sports Utility Vehicles, SUVs, for justices.
Justice Dongban-Mensem lamented that salary structure for judges in Nigeria has consistently ranked poorly when compared to that of their counterparts in other African and Commonwealth countries.
In a speech she delivered at the maiden legal year of the appellate court, the PCA bemoaned that salaries of judicial officers have been stagnated for 14 years, noting that it was last reviewed in 2007.
The PCA said the appellate court requires 45 new Prado Jeeps as well as 81 Hilux SUVs for justices of the court.
According to her, “This is because 22 Toyota Prado Jeeps have been in use by Justices for nine years and are due for replacement.
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“Similarly, another 23 Toyota Prado Jeeps have been in use for seven years and are also in need of urgent replacement.
“In addition to the above, 43 justices of the Court have not been issued with any Hilux Double Cabin Utility Vehicles before.
“Another 20 other Hilux vehicles, which are currently in use, are urgently due for replacement.
“I must also add that our 18 new justices are yet to be allocated with their Hilux Utility Vehicles thus making it a total of 81 Hilux Vehicles required for the Justices of the Court.
“I assure my Lords, the Brother Justices of my unstinting commitment towards your welfare and I shall work to ensure that your Lordships are well catered for, despite the budgetary constraints we experience.
“In return, I ask for my Lords’ continued dedication to dispensing justice in a manner that is not only quick, but also fair and above reproach.
“We must remember that every action is being monitored by the public and more so by the Almighty God, to Whom we must all render account one day.
“This will however depend as much on the Bar, who are also fellow servants in the Temple of Justice.”
On salaries of Justices, the PCA disclosed that while the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, currently earns N279, 497 as monthly salary, other justices on the Supreme Court bench earn the sum of N206,425.
Justice Dongban-Mensem said as President of Court of Appeal, she receives the sum of N206,425, while other justices on the bench of the Court of Appeal, go home with N166,285 every month.
On the performance of the appellate court, Justice Dongban-Mensem said the court currently has a total of 33, 647 appeals and motions pending in its docket, as compared with 45, 775 appeals and motions that were pending before it at the end of the 2019/2020 legal year.
In his remarks, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, lauded the appellate court which he said has contributed positively and effectively to the resolution of appeals, thereby helping to maintain the stability of the country.
He assured that President Buhari has already constituted a committee to review the welfare of judicial officers generally, to ensure greater efficiency.
On its part, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, through its National President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, said there was need for the judiciary to administer the law in a manner that would sustain its claim of being the last line of defence and hope of the common man.