Implement Improved Salaries, Working Conditions Of Judicial Officers Now — CSLS President, Prof. Akinseye-George, Urge RMFAC

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…Senior Advocates, Professors Who Are Desirous Of Serving On The Bench Must Be Ready To Start From The High Court Level And Rise Through The Hierarchy — Akinseye-George

Deji Adebayo, Abuja

Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, the President of Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) has urged the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) to commence the implementation of improved salaries and working conditions of judicial officers as directed by the President Muhammadu Buhari this year.

He made this call during the training of ACJA Rangers on their roles in effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJL) across the country held at the CSLS Center in Abuja.

Akinseye-George, SAN, made this call in his welcome address delivered by Barr. Kelvin A. Mejulu, a Senior Lawyer & Partner at the Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN & Partners law firm.

Akinseye-George in his address said; “The CSLS notes with delight the directive issued by HE President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) to commence implementation of improved salaries and working conditions of judicial officers.

“We urge the Commission to act quickly on the President’s directive so that the 2023 Budget can reflect the review. In doing so, the Commission must give due regard to the judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) that prescribed certain amounts as befitting salaries for different levels of judicial officers.

“The Commission must abolish the old practice of lumping the issue of salaries of judges with those of political office holders in the same enactment and salary structure. There must be a separate legislative instrument dedicated to the salaries, allowances, working conditions and retirement benefits of judicial officers.

“Similarly, the government must review upwards the salaries and allowances of lower court judges, prosecutors, investigators, court administrators and support staff. The truth is that if these other justice sector personnel are not happy, they can frustrate the judges and render the entire sector ineffective. We must never have a repeat of the JUSUN strike of recent years which totally paralyzed the justice sector.

“The CSLS also appeals to the National Judicial Council (NJC) under the able chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON, to expedite action on the process of appointing new judges and justices to fill up all available vacancies in the courts. This will help to reduce the cumbersome workload of the courts and enhance access to justice by the citizens and others who look up to the courts for improved justice delivery.

“The judiciary must not short change the public by abandoning regular cases and concentrating on political cases. Equality before the law is a fundamental principle of the Rule of Law and of our constitution. Therefore, all persons including the poor and non-politicians have a right to speedy access to justice.

“However, the CSLS does not subscribe to the call to appoint legal practitioners including Senior Advocates and Professors directly to the appellate courts. Anyone who is desirous of serving on the bench must be ready to start from the high court level and rise through the hierarchy. Lawyers, who all their lives have been trained and socialized in a particular way may not find it easy to adjust to the neutral, austere and reserved lifestyle expected of good judicial officers. Besides, the appellate courts sit in panels and it may not be practicable to have practitioners and Professors turned justices sit on every panel of the court if it is agreed that that’s the way to broaden the outlook and enrich the perspectives of the appellate courts.

“Furthermore, the CSLS urges the CJN to prioritize the issue of digitalization of the judiciary. It is no longer acceptable that judges and magistrates continue to suffer the tedium of writing court proceedings in long hand. Not only does this take a serious toll on their health, it also slows down the pace of justice delivery,” he advocate.

He also use same opportunity to express his appreciation to all stakeholders for making themselves available at this workshop.

“Furthermore, we are grateful to our partners foremost amongst whom is the John D and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation. We are equally grateful to the members of the press who I prefer to call our ‘partners in progress’. With your support we have been able to reach many people who were not able to attend our Programmes. We are always delighted when people who have never attended any of our Programmes compliment us at different fora while appreciating the humble contributions of our Centre,” he said.

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