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Appeal Court president seeks better pay for judicial officers, opens new legal year

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The newly sworn in Appeal Court President, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem. See story on Page 5


President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, yesterday, pleaded with the Federal Government for immediate review of emoluments of judicial officers in the country. She noted that the parlous pay regime has stagnated for over 10 years.

Speaking at the opening of the 2021/22 legal year in Abuja, the PCA lamented that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and head of the judiciary takes home N279, 497 as monthly salary, while his brother justices on the Supreme Court bench receive N206, 425 each.

Dongban-Mensem said she gets N206, 425, while other justices on the bench of the Court of Appeal go home with N166, 285 every month.
She regretted that the salary structure for judicial officers and staff in Nigeria has consistently ranked poorly when compared with that of their counterparts in other African and Commonwealth nations.

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Specifically, Justice Dongban-Mensem recalled that the last time salaries of judicial officers were reviewed was in 2008, when the increase was made to take effect from February 1, 2007.

She, therefore, called on the federal and state governments to faithfully implement the financial autonomy for state legislatures and judiciaries as captured in the Presidential Executive Order 10.

The judge said: “I implore the government of the federation and states to urgently review the salaries and allowances of judicial officers and staff.

“The salaries of justices are static with no graduation as in the civil and public service. We have been on one salary grade for over 10 years now.

“May I also call on the government to increase financial allocations that will enable us to introduce technical innovations that would improve adjudication.”

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Dongba-Mensem disclosed that during the outgone legal year, covering September 2020 to August 2021, a total of 5, 092 appeals and 9, 249 motions were filed across the 20 divisions of the court.

During the period under review, the appellate court disposed 3,111 appeals, 7, 492 motions with 2, 169 appeals dismissed, while 942 others were upheld.

The Appeal Court boss added that 109 more motions were filed, representing a 50.6 per cent increase over the tally of the previous year.

In his remarks, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, appealed to the judges to maintain the sanctity and credibility of the court all time for promotion of public confidence in their judgments. He promised that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would see to welfare of judicial officers for greater efficiency.

Also speaking, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, lamented that “politicians, aided by the conduct of some of our colleagues, appear to be bringing disrepute to the hallowed chambers in their battles for political supremacy.” He said their target was to make “a mockery of an institution that must always inspire confidence, trust and fairness.”

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