Tobi Soniyi in Lagos
The pioneer Secretary of the National Judicial Council, (NJC), Mr. Danladi Halilu, has called for the harmonisation of laws of administration of pension of judicial officers to make the payment of retired judgesâ€™ pensions easier.
Halilu, who spoke yesterday in Abuja at a valedictory session held for him by the NJC to mark his retirement from service, said the harmonisation of the laws would ensure that only the NJC pay pensions of retired judges whether they retired from states or the federal judiciary.
He noted that lack of harmonisation of pension laws meant that some judges who retired from states had been subjected to harrowing experience and untold hardship before they got their pensions.
He said: â€œThis will guarantee the security of officers, in particular of state judicial officers who in some states are hardly paid their gratuities and pension after retirement from office.â€
Halilu also used the occasion to applaud the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for increasing the funding of the Federal Judiciary in the 2017 appropriation.
He said: â€œThis unprecedented allocation to the judiciary by the federal government, among others, made it possible for NJC to pay the reviewed and harmonised pensions of retired federal judicial officers, including the backlog of their areas.â€
Halilu also commended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen for the on-going reforms in the judiciary.
He appealed to the CJN to include lower courts in his on-going reform agenda in order to achieve meaningful success in the entire justice delivery sector.
As NJCâ€™s pioneering secretary, Halilu initiated the transfer of pension of all retired federal judicial officers from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to the NJC vide the Federal Judicial Officers (Administration of Pension) Act 2007 which has increased the living standard of retired judicial officers.
While appreciating the contributions of Halilu to the development of the NJC, the CJN who is also the Chairman of the council, Justice Onnoghen described him as an astute administrator, conscientious lawyer, a man of vision and an arrow head of an independent judiciary.
Other members of council, described Halilu as a man who laid a strong and solid foundation for the judiciary with his administrative skills.
As the first NJC secretary, Halilu contributed immensely to the building of the gigantic edfice of the council situated at the Three Arms Zone in Abuja.
Halilu assumed duty as NJC secretary on July, 2002. Before his retirement, he served seven Chief Justices of Nigeria who also served as chairmen of the councils.
The session was attended by past CJNs including Justices Muhammadu Uwais, Salihu Belgore, Marian Mukhatr and Mahmud Mohammed.