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SERAP asks court to slash jumbo allowances for Buhari, others

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to order the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to perform their statutory functions and review downward the remuneration and allowances of President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, 36 governors, members of the National Assembly and others.

Joined as respondents in the suit are Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for themselves, and on behalf of all members of the Senate and House of Representative; and the National Judicial Council.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit. In the suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, the body argues that slashing jumbo pay for these high-ranking political office-holders would reduce the unfair pay disparity between political officer holders and judicial officers, address the persistent poor treatment of judges, and improve the access of victims of corruption to justice and effective remedies.

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In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/658/2021 filed last Friday, the body seeks an order of mandamus to direct and compel the RMAFC to send its downward review of the remuneration and allowances of these high-ranking public office holders and recommendations to the National Assembly for appropriate remedial and legislative action, as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended).

The organisation also seeks an order of mandamus to direct and compel the RMAFC to perform its mandatory constitutional duty to urgently review upward the remuneration, salaries and allowances, as well as the conditions of service for Nigerian judges.

“While high-ranking political office-holders continue to enjoy lavish allowances, including life pensions and access to security votes, which they have powers to spend as they wish, the remuneration and allowances of judges are grossly insufficient to enable them to maintain themselves and their families in reasonable comfort,” they argue.

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According to the body, the huge pay disparity between these high-ranking political officer-holders and judges is unfair, unjust and discriminatory, especially given the roles of judges to the people and the country.

The body said: “The remuneration and allowances of judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of high-ranking political office-holders such as President, Vice-President, governors and lawmakers.

“While government reviewed upward the salaries and allowances of political office holders on four occasions between May 1999 and March 2011, the salaries and allowances of judicial officers were only reviewed twice during the same period.

“The review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by the RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of high-ranking political office-holders.

“There is a legal duty upon the RMAFC to urgently review downward the remuneration and allowances of high-ranking political office-holders.”

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