Pass that Bill to Increase Judicial Salaries Now!

They are often seen and not heard, but, stoically Nigerian judicial officers toil laboriously day and night adjudicating, writing and delivering judgements, ensuring that the wheels of justice grind as smoothly as possible. But, how many are aware that their salaries and conditions of service are miserably and unimaginably poor? That for 17 years, their salaries and allowances have remained the same, despite the soaring inflation. For ethical reasons, they cannot speak for themselves, neither can they protest. Having been on one salary for almost two decades, the Judicial Office Holders (Salaries & Allowances, etc) Bill, 2024 to remedy this anomaly is in the offing. A Senate Public Hearing was held last Monday, May 20, 2024, and the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN; the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Mohammed Tahir Monguno; the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN and the Chief Judge of Borno State, Hon. Justice Kashim Zannah, all made their remarks at the Hearing, supporting the upward review their Lordships’ salaries and welfare packages 

The Bill: A Bold Step

Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio

This Bill represents a bold step towards ensuring that our judicial officers are adequately compensated and recognised, for their invaluable service to our great nation. Our objective is clear: to forge a salary and benefits structure, that not only meets the basic needs of our judicial officers, but also provides the incentives and support necessary for the maintenance of a robust and independent Judiciary. It is on record that for the past 10 years, nothing was done to increase the salaries and allowances of our judicial officers, despite the galloping inflation and the unconducive environment they operate daily to adjudicate and mete out justice to those deserving it. 

Let us extend our heartfelt gratitude to His Excellency, President Bola Tinubu, and this administration for enhancing the welfare of our judicial officers. This initiative is a testament to his commitment to not only strengthen the Judiciary, but also ensuring that justice in Nigeria is served by a well-supported, independent, and efficient Judiciary. The foresight to increase the salaries and allowances of our judicial officers, illustrates a profound understanding of the foundational role that the Judiciary plays in upholding democracy and maintaining law and order in our society. 


In conclusion, I wish to reiterate the importance of this hearing. It is not merely an administrative review; it is a reaffirmation of our commitment to upholding the independence of the Judiciary, and, by extension, the upholding of democracy and rule of law in our beloved nation. The insights gained today from major stakeholders will be invaluable in guiding our decisions, ensuring that our judicial system is not only preserved but strengthened. Together, let us set a precedent that will resonate with the values of justice, fairness, and integrity, that we all hold dear.

Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, Senate President, 10th National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria

An Innovative Reform Law in the Making

Lateef Fagbemi, SAN

Let me commence my comments by commending the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this Committee, for their continuing commitment to advancing the administration of justice and promoting the welfare of the Judiciary.


Distinguished Senators, may I kindly note that the efforts to improve the remuneration of our judicial officers has a chequered history. These efforts commenced with the previous administration, with the setting up of a Committee on the Review of Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service (“HAGF Committee”) by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in 2018.

It would be recalled that the HAGF Committee’s mandate was meant to serve as a special Presidential intervention, designed to improve the working conditions of judicial officers and institutionalise a specialised system that would reasonably guarantee the welfare of our judicial officers. However, the recommendations of the Committee were not actioned.

In the Committee’s Report, it was noted that between May 1999 and March 2011, the Federal Government reviewed the salaries and allowances of Public Servants and Political office holders on four occasions, specifically in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2011. New regimes of national minimum wage were also put in place, within the same period.

However, the salaries of judicial officers were only reviewed twice during the same period.

The HAGF Committee’s Report contained provision for the enactment of the Judicial Office Holders Entitlement Bill, which will consolidate all statutory provisions and regulations regarding judicial salaries and allowances into a single legislation.

The issue of increment was revisited in late 2022, with the President  granting approval on 27th October, 2022 to all the recommendations of HAGF Committee, with a further directive for the HAGF and Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to initiate steps to actualise the proposed increment. This led to a meeting in that regard held on 1st December, 2022 between the Federal Ministry of Justice and RMAFC. Key stakeholders in the justice sector including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Heads of Courts, Nigerian Bar Association, Body of Benchers, etc submitted memoranda which were considered by RMAFC to improve upon the previous recommendation of HAGF Committee, in order to reflect current trends and new allowances.

Consequently, the Chairman, RMAFC on 9th May, 2023 forwarded the report of reviewed Remuneration Packages for Political, Public, and Judicial Office Holders, to the Ministry for further action. The report proposed a 114% increment, in the remuneration of the Judiciary. It is noted that the review exercise cut across the Three Arms of Government, as well as recommendations for the States and Local Governments. A letter dated 25th May, 2023 seeking Presidential approval for the implementation of the recommendations of the RMAFC Report was forwarded to the President. However, this process was not completed before the end of the previous administration.

Sometime in July 2023 the National Judicial Council (NJC) forwarded a Proposed Review of Consolidated Salaries and Allowances for Judicial Officers, for consideration by the President. The NJC Proposal was a revision of the remuneration package earlier proposed by RMAFC, which was not consummated before the end of the previous administration. The instant NJC proposal for a 300% increase was informed by: prevailing economic realities of increasing headline and core inflationary trends, putting in place an enabling working environment that engenders professional development and efficiency for judicial officers.

Based on the foregoing and the expressed concerns of His Excellency, the President, over matters of improving welfare and standards in the Judiciary, promoting capacity, independence and confidence in the Nigerian Judiciary; I recommended the NJC proposal for the President’s consideration on 19th October, 2023. On 20th October, 2023, the President granted an unprecedented approval of a 300% increment in the remuneration of judicial officers. Consequently, the President directed RMAFC to review its previous May 2023 recommendation to reflect the NJC proposal. This culminated in the present Executive Bill that was forwarded to the National Assembly in furtherance of a cardinal part of the President’s Renewed Hope for a Better Nigeria, which is deepening Judicial Reforms to promote sustainable socio-economic growth.

I wish to remark that the JUDICIAL OFFICE HOLDERS (SALARIES AND ALLOWANCES, ETC.) BILL 2024 is quite innovative, aside the increment in the basic salary, it also took cognisance of certain peculiarities of the administrative structure and operation of the Judiciary. This Bill will birth an appropriate and commensurate remuneration, that will ensure judicial independence and integrity.

The present-day but sad reality, is that the Judiciary has stagnated on the same salary scale for over 16 years, this is totally unacceptable and quite antithetical to any meaningful judicial reform. I strongly commend this Bill for your kind consideration, and do urge the Senate to support and ensure the passage of this Bill in national interest of promoting the rule of law. I thank you all sincerely, for the privilege to make this presentation.

May I seize this opportunity to inform your Excellency, the Senate President and Distinguished Senators here present, that our focus on judicial reform is not only about judicial remuneration. In consultation with the judiciary and other key stakeholders, we are also interested in ensuring a holistic review of our judicial system to respond to the justice needs of Nigeria. This is why I am taking immediate/urgent steps, to establish a Working Group on the review of the Constitution and other relevant laws. The Working Group will, among others, focus on the key provisions aimed at achieving the Judiciary that responds to evolving justice needs of Nigerians. At the appropriate time, and I promise very soon, we will come up with proposals for Constitutional and Statutory reforms of the Judiciary in particular, and the Administration of Justice System in general.

I thank you all once again for the indulgence, and I urge you to quickly pass the Bill.

Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Federal Republic of Nigeria 

Judicial Officers’ Outdated Remuneration and Welfare Package 

Senator Mohammed Tahir Monguno

The Nigerian Judiciary plays a vital role in upholding the rule of law, protecting the rights and freedom of our citizens, and ensuring the proper administration of justice in our country. However, the current remuneration and welfare package for judicial officers has not kept pace with the rising cost of living, and the increasing complexity of their responsibilities.

Judicial officers in Nigeria are tasked with making difficult and impactful decisions that have far-reaching consequences for individuals, communities, and the nation as a whole. They must navigate complex legal frameworks, analyse voluminous evidence, and deliver fair and impartial rulings, all while maintaining the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. Their work is essential for maintaining social stability, promoting economic development and safeguarding the integrity of our Institutions.

 In spite of this, the salaries and allowances of our judicial officers have remained stagnant for far too long, failing to adequately compensate for their crucial contributions to our society. This has led to concerns about the ability to attract and retain the best legal minds in the Judiciary, so we must ensure that they are paid remuneration commensurate with the gravity of their work and the high moral standards expected of them.

It is our responsibility to ensure that the Nigerian Judiciary is equipped with the resources and support it needs, to function effectively and efficiently. By increasing the salaries and allowances of Judicial officers, we will be demonstrating our commitment to strengthening the independence and integrity of the Judiciary, and sending a clear message that we value their vital role in our democratic system. This Bill, if passed, will not only improve the living standards of our Judicial Officers, but also enhance the overall quality of the Justice system, boost public confidence, and contribute to the long-term stability and prosperity of our nation.

We must carefully consider the fiscal implications, benchmark against other Jurisdictions and ensure that any increases are sustainable and justified. But, ultimately, we have a moral and constitutional obligation to provide a fair compensation for those who uphold the law and protect the rights of our citizens.

The  time  has  come to  demonstrate our commitment to  a  strong, independent and well-resourced Judiciary. Together, let us take this crucial step towards strengthening the foundation of our democracy, and deliverance of justice for all Nigerians.

Senator Mohammed Tahir Monguno, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters

Appropriate Judiciary Compensation is Necessary 

Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN

Service, Not Hardship 

Nigeria has an excellent Judiciary. The motivation for many judicial officers is a sense of public service, a quest for justice and a commitment to Nigeria.  Although it is a privilege to be appointed to serve, judicial officers must not be made to go through hardship in their quest to serve Nigeria. The NBA has, in its advocacy briefing notes on judicial reform, highlighted at least four reasons why appropriate judicial compensation continues to be necessary: These are: to strengthen judicial independence; attract highly qualified Lawyers; enhance the integrity of the Judiciary, and ensure that judges are not demoralised.

A Very Progressive Legislation With Limitations  

In general terms, the proposed Bill seeks to consolidate legislative provisions relating to judicial salaries and entitlements, into a single piece of legislation. It supports judicial independence by creating a modern statutory framework for determining the salary, allowances, and conditions of service for judicial officers. It is by all standards, a very progressive legal framework. Without prejudice to the merits of the Bill, and fully aware of the need to achieve its expeditious enactment, we wish to respectfully suggest four proposals for the consideration of the Senate.


The first proposal arises from our respectful position that, the review of judicial remuneration should not be left to the untrammelled discretion of the very arm of government on which they should not be dependent. The Senate, having taken the important step of considering the removal of the Judiciary from the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Officers Holders Act, should go a step further by creating a Judicial Office Holders Entitlements Panel which will take up the sole responsibility of determining the salaries, allowances and other benefits of judicial officers, as presently done by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

The second proposal, relates to the plight of retired judicial officers. It is our submission that it would be unjust if retired judicial officers are unable to benefit from the upward review of judicial remuneration, especially having been victims of the inability of previous governments to make progress on the issue of fair and reasonable salaries for judicial officers. The literal interpretation of the Bill, read together with the relevant constitutional provisions, does not readily admit retired judicial officers as beneficiaries of the review.

The third proposal directly relates to the provisions of the Bill, which simply put, does not recognise seniority on the Bench. For example, a High Court Judge appointed in 2024 by the provisions of the proposed Bill will earn the same basic salary as his brother Judge appointed a decade before him. It may be necessary to review the provision of the long service allowance, to cure this anomaly.

The fourth proposal directly relates to the stated commitment of the Senate, to seek the best possible outcome for the Judiciary in the course of this remuneration review. We note that the 2024 Appropriation Act, prima facie, provides an improved remuneration package for judicial officers over and above that provided for in the schedule to the Bill under consideration. We propose that the Senate should consider substituting the Schedule provided in the Bill, with the one already provided for in the 2024 Appropriation Act.

Let’s Not Forget Judicial Workers  and Magistrates

While talking about the welfare of judicial officers, we are not oblivious of the fact that judicial officers cannot function outside of the complementary and very important role played by other court officials. The need to cater for their welfare in a unique way as done for judicial officers, is a necessity that must be addressed in order to attain the desired efficiency expected of the courts. The NBA, therefore, strongly advocates for the inclusion of deliberate provisions to address the needs of these Judiciary staff. 

Also, those who are confronted with the challenges of administering justice at the lowest levels in our communities all over the country, but are yet to be considered or acknowledged as judicial officers, are our Magistrates. Though they perform judicial functions and bear the burden of dealing with mostly criminal cases at the grassroot levels in our communities, they are not reckoned as judicial officers under the Constitution. It is high time this August body did that, as it will boost their morale and bring them within the ambit of this exercise.

Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN, President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)

The Dire State of Judicial Officers’ Remuneration 

Hon. Justice Kashim Zannah

The state of judicial officers’ remuneration is so dire, that it is approaching a national emergency that threatens security and the economy by undermining all positive efforts of government.

The salaries were last reviewed in the year 2007. It has been 17 years earning the same amount, despite the tumultuous depreciation in purchasing power.


1. The exchange rate of the USD was N130.25. Therefore, as of 2007, when the salaries were fixed, for example, a Judge’s monthly gross pay, before tax, N661,738.00 (divided by N130.25) equalled US $5,080.52.

Today (divided by N1,500.51), it is $441.16.

The gross salary fixed in 2007 was, in today’s value, equal to N7,620,780.00.

2. The Bill on the floor, now proposes the equivalent to be N3,671,472.82.

3. By the historic instrumentality of the 10th National Assembly and the noted and unequalled disposition of Mr President to enhance the administration of justice, the current Appropriation Law captures an anticipated equivalent of the above example at a gross monthly of N4,271,218.

The tables captured in the Appropriation Law are attached herewith, as our proposed replacement for the Schedule to the Bill on the floor.

4. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we note with profound appreciation to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), that the Bill on the floor is structurally and conceptually a marked improvement that foretells a future of fair and just compensation for judicial work.

Great effort was manifestly made to move from generic public officer compensation principles, to include an acknowledgment of the peculiarities of the judicial office that impel compensation.


It is evident from the foregoing, that even the Appropriated salary package is less than half the value of the salaries fixed in 2007. The one in the Bill on the floor is less still.

Judges across Nigeria endured 17 years of depreciation, and consequent deprivation.

Our prayers, therefore, are that:

1. The National Assembly pass the Bill with the herewith attached tables (reflecting the Appropriation Law), replacing the current Schedule for the Bill.

2. The National Assembly continue to extend its irreplaceable support to addressing some still subsisting issues on the subject, which we refrain from raising now, in order to allow for the expeditious grant of the above prayer, because Judge across the length and breadth of Nigeria are expectantly enduring the pain on a daily basis.

Hon. Justice Kashim Zannah, OFR, Chief Judge, Borno State & Member, National Judicial Council (NJC)

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