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Salary Increase Should Cover Other Judiciary Workers, Not Just Judges – Odinkalu

Human rights activist, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, says focusing only on the review of the salaries of judges will be counterproductive.

Odinkalu, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, said that the output of judges is dependent on the welfare of other staff in the judiciary and therefore urged that the salary be reviewed across board.

“How many times have members of the judiciary staff union gone on strike in the last three years? In some states, courts have been more closed than opened.

“So, when you go to court, there is a registry and the registry has the personnel who run the records, who help with filing. The judges are not going to do the filing, they are not going to do service, that is the business of the bailiffs, they are not going to do the documentation.

“All of those things precede the performative parts of the judicial function. My fear is that judges are so fixated on themselves, they forget that their output is contingent actually on the wellbeing of those personnel,” Odinkalu said.

He said there would be no justification if judges are granted over 800 per cent increase in salary without also expediting the review of the judicial workers’ salaries.

The former Chairman of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission said this might make judicial workers to be resentful and embrace bribery.

Earlier in the day, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, bemoaned the neglect in the remuneration of judicial officers for close to 17 years, a situation he asserted as antithetical to any meaningful judicial reform.

On May 9, the Senate kick-started moves to review salaries, allowances and fringe benefits of judicial office holders in Nigeria in a bid to curb bribery and corruption and ensure independence of the judiciary.

The executive bill seeking to prescribe the salaries of the judicial office holders both at the federal and state levels scaled second reading.

The bill was, thereafter, referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters to report back in four weeks.

The move by the Senate came two months after President Bola Tinubu presented a bill to the upper chamber, asking the lawmakers to review the salaries of judicial officers in the country.

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