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National Assembly cries out over poor welfare packages for Judges, others

The National Assembly Committee on Judiciary on Friday raised alarm that the poor welfare packages and salaries for Judicial Officers, Judges and Staff of Judiciary is threatening the overall performance of the Judiciary arm of government.

The Chairman of the Joint National Assembly Committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, made this known on Friday.

He spoke during the budget performance and defence of the Judiciary on Friday.

Bamidele, who hinged his argument on a Leaked Memo from the Justices of the Supreme Court, said the increment of N120 billion to N150 billion for the Judiciary was not enough to cater for welfare of the arm of government.

He said: “We stand to consider the content of the leaked memo from the Justices of the Supreme Court as a wake-up call or clarion call to comprehensively address the welfare issues and well-being of Judges, Judicial Officers and staff of the Judiciary, as well as judicial apparatus and infrastructure of courts.

“Otherwise, poor working conditions and lack of the requisite welfare will affect the overall performance of the Nigerian Judiciary.

“I do hope the budget you are going to present before us today has addressed most of these salient issues.

“The budget proposal was with respect to a figure of N150 billion allocated to the judiciary in the 2023 budget through the National Judicial Council.

“This represents a N30 billion increase over an amount allotted in 2022, which was N120 billion, and all of us agreed on the need to commend the President for ensuring continued increase in the budget of the judiciary every year in the last four years.

“The reasons for the increase is to say that a budget of N120 billion for the judiciary was totally not enough to help the judicial arm of government discharge on its mandate and responsibilities.

“With the N150 billion, it is not yet Uhuru for the judiciary because the judiciary still needs much more than that to operate and be able to address adequately the welfare of our judicial officers and staff of the judiciary.”

In his presentation before the Joint Committee, Ahmed Saleh lamented that though the NJC has been able to assess 80 per cent of 2022 budget, the inflation rate in the county has had adverse effect on the budget performance of the NJC.

Saleh said that based on the challenges facing the NJC, the budget proposal submitted to the Ministry of Finance was N338 billion, but was given the envelope of N150 billion.

He added that although there is an increase of N30 billion in the budget compared to last year’s budget of N120 billion, in the real sense of it, there is no serious increase in the budget considering the level of inflation in the country.

He said: “The appropriation for the judiciary in this subsisting fiscal year is N120 billion.

“It is gratifying that out of this sum, we are so far able to assess 80 per cent of the fund.

“That notwithstanding, the current economic situation has forced on us a serious issue in terms of and our budget implementation and performance.

“This subsisting budget was passed at a benchmark of N580 to a dollar.

“The economic situation had hampered the performance and implementation of our budget.

“Even with the N150 billion, we are constrained.

“This economic indices are still persisting even if we need to achieve milestone this year, with N120 billion on each and every vote, we have to make an additional provision of  over 20 per cent on the votes for us to be able to achieve the milestone.”

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