Disagrees over screening of S’Court justices
By Deji Elumoye
The Senate yesterday decried the poor remuneration of judges in the country, saying their poor pay could make them to compromise or become vulnerable to corruption in the course of their justice dispensation.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary , Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, stated this during the screening of the eight justices recently nominated by President Muhamnadu Buhari, from the Court of Appeal as justices of Supreme Court .
The lawmakers however disagreed on methods that should be adopted in screening the justices.
Bamidele condemned the poor welfare packages given judicial officers and justices in the country .
Bamidele said the pay of each of the justices of the Supreme Court per annum as far as basic salary was concerned was N2.477million, while those of the Court of Appeal was N1.995million each and judges of the high court , N1.804million each.
He said on a monthly basis , the total pay of a justice of the Supreme Court is N753,000 while his counterpart in the Court of Appeal was paid N608,000 and the High Court judges got N556,000.00 each .
He said, “The enumerated poor take home packages for judges and justices, clearly show that they are not being fortified in anyway against temptation on the line of duty.”
However, there was a mild drama among members of the committee on methods that should be adopted in screening the justices.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi raised an observation that it would be better for the screening of the Supreme Court justices to be held behind closed doors.
However, Senator James Manager kicked against Utazi’s observation and noted that there was no time that Supreme Court judges nominees were screened behind closed doors since he had been in the Senate,
He insisted that Utazi’s observation lacked precedent and should be discarded since there were interested members of the public, especially civil society organisations and the Nigerian Bar Association and media.Senators Peter Nwaoboshi, Bala Na’Allah and Abdullahi Adamu agreed with Manager.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu backed Utazi, but said that members of the judiciary committee could go into a closed door session without the nominees so that modalities for the screening would be perfected and adopted.
Efforts by the chairman to subject the observations to a vote so that the issue would be resolved also hit a wall.
Immediately he asked that the issue be put to vote, some senators said it would be better if the committee’s voting decision was taken behind closed doors.
The arguments almost stalled the screening process.