• Say government failed to release allocation for December salaries
By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Workers in the judiciary, including judges, are now seeking help from lawyers to meet their needs following the delay in payment of their December last year’s salaries.
A judge who spoke with THISDAY and asked that he should not be quoted for fear of reprisal, said he had to ask a lawyer for a soft loan to pay his children school fees.
“You journalists are not saying anything about the decision of government not to pay us. Judiciary staff are now asking lawyers for help to pay their children school fees,” the judge said.
He wondered how judges would survive if their salaries are not being paid at a time when the economy is in recession.
Investigation shows that the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body that dispenses funds to the judiciary, has yet to receive allocations from the federal government to enable it pay salaries of judicial officers and workers for the month of December last year.
Another source at the NJC said it was not only judges that are suffering, all workers in the federal judiciary were going through a tough time to survive.
No one at the NJC agreed to talk on records those who chose to talk said there was nothing secretive bout it.
“Government knows that we have not been paid, so why is the management keeping quiet about this?,” a worker asked.
The NJC source said for a government fighting corruption to deny workers their salaries makes a mockery of the fight against graft.
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had last week expressed concern over the non-payment of salary to its members at the federal level and judicial officers in the federation.
National President of JUSUN, Marwan Adamu, who disclosed this to journalists in Abuja, said judicial workers and judges at both the federal and states did not enjoy during the festivity period because their salaries were not paid.
Marwan had therefore made an urgent all for the payment of the December salary to the affected workers saying that prompt payment of salary to workers will boost the anti corruption war of the present administration.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency intervene with a view of addressing the ugly situation, adding that the president should be mindful of those who might sabotage his efforts to reform the judiciary.
“As I speak with you, the salary of all non judicial officers at the federal level and judicial officers across the federation have not been paid. The federal judicial officers celebrated the festivity without buying anything for their loves one.
“While we commend the present administration war on corruption, we want to also appeal to ensure prompt payment of salary to workers because that would motivate them to discharge their duties without any fear of favour.”
The union leader further warned of industrial disharmony in the sector, adding that government must do all within the law to avert any of such in the country.
While non judicial officers have a union that can speak for them, judges don’t have such an association.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola who is now being prosecuted for alleged corruption had delivered a judgment in which he affirmed the financial autonomy of the judiciary under the constitution.
In a judgment he delivered in January 2114, the judge had restrained the federal government and the 36 states from holding on to fund budgeted for the judiciary.
In a considered judgment on the suit which was filed by JUSUN, Justice Ademola held that the workers had the standing to ask both the federal government and the states to comply with the provisions of the constitution as they affected the funding of the judiciary.
He ordered that funds meant for the judiciary should be released directly to the heads of court and not to the executive arm of government.
He said the practice of the executive disbursing funds to the judiciary was unconstitutional and also threatened the independence of the judiciary.
Relying on the provisions of sections 83(1), 212(3) and 162(9) of the constitution of as amended, Justice Ademola said that the provisions were clear and straightforward and should therefore be complied with.
He said: “The Attorney General of the Federation and the states should act responsibly and promptly to avoid constitutional crisis in this country, by ensuring financial autonomy for the judiciary.”
According to him, the end has come for the judiciary to be going cap in hand to begging the executive for fund.