15th September, 2021
President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, on Monday gave some startling insight into the salary structure prevailing in the Nigerian judiciary.
She said the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who is the head of the judiciary in Nigeria, as at today takes home N279, 497 as monthly salary, an equivalent of $680.
Other justices on the Supreme Court bench go home with the sum of N206,425 or $502.
She said as President of the Court of Appeal, she receives the sum of N206,425 or $502.
Other justices on the bench of the Court of Appeal, go home with N166,285 or $404 every month.
Dongban-Mensem said the salaries, minus allowances, of judicial officers have stagnated for over 10 years.
Dongban-Mensem was right that the salaries have stagnated for years.
But she didn’t get right the years of stagnation.
Also, she didn’t reflect the entire truth about the salaries of the judges.
The last time salaries of judicial and political office holders were reviewed was in 2008.
That is a clear 13 years, three years more than the estimate by Dongban-Mensem.
Also, she only provided the basic salaries of the judicial officers, which, in any way are scandalous in an economy ravaged by inflation and exchange rate 300 percent more than it was at the time of the last review.
As published by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission(RMAFC), the CJN takes home N560,662, about $1,000 at the unofficial exchange rate.
While his basic pay is N280,331.04, he also earns N70, 082 as personal assistant allowance, N140,165 as hardship allowance and N70,082 as dressing allowance.
For a country that references itself as the biggest economy in Africa, it is sheer absurdity for the CJN to earn $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year, when his South African counterpart earns R 2.9million or $196,000 a year.
Also the salary of other justices in the Supreme Court and the President of the Court of Appeal is much higher than the N206,425 which Justice Monica claimed.
The N206,425 is the monthly basic pay.
The take home pay for this category of judicial officers is N486,765.95.
Like the CJN, they also earn allowances such as N70,082 for personal assistant, N140,165.52 as hardship allowance and N70,082 as dressing allowance.
The table published by RMAFC, shown below is inaccurate. P.M.News recalculated by finding the true monthly value of yearly basic of N2,477,110 for these officers.
However, other judicial officers like judges of Court of Appeal, FCT chief judge, President National Industrial Court take home more money than the CJN or President Court of Appeal.
They earn a total of N731,657.65 monthly, on the back of many allowances. Under government policy, they have to pay for their own accommodation, pay for domestic aides and service their vehicles themselves.
The government provides official accommodation and vehicles for the senior judicial officers and monetises such perks for other officers.(See table:
Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem may have been economical with the truth about the actual take-home pay of judicial officers, she may have done other public officers a lot of good.
The salary level for Nigerian officials from the President downwards really calls for urgent review.
But the question will be whether the government can afford a holistic review in view of its meagre resources.
As per the 2008 RMAFC document, the President of Nigeria earns N1,171,568.20 a month. His basic salary is N292,892.08, just about N12,000 more than the CJN’s salary.
The Vice President earns a basic pay of N252,631.04 and a total pay of N1,010,524.
Ministers, head of service, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of RMAFC and other constitutional bodies earn N650,136.
For other public officers, please read here: Remuneration-Package-for-Political-and-Judicial-Office-Holders-
One of the falls out of Dongban-Mensem’s intervention is the need to have a second look at the out-of-station allowances for public officers.
Unless public officials travel abroad, when they could earn between $2,000 to $600 a day, they collect far less when they travel within Nigeria.
The CJN is only entitled to N50,000 outside of Abuja and the President Court of Appeal, N30,000.
With this kind of allowance, they can only spend the night in two star or three star hotels.
With the powerful voice of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, it may not be long when the RMAFC will do a comprehensive review of the remuneration of not only judicial officers, but also all public office holders.