By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has asked the National Assembly to alter the constitution to mandate the National Judicial Council (NJC) to fix and review judges salaries every four years.
The CJN made this submission in the paper he presented as recommendations of the judiciary on the occasion of the national public hearing by Senate Committee on review of the 1999 Constitution held at the Africa Hall of the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
A statement signed by a Senior Special Assistance to the CJN, Ahuraka Yusuf Isah, said the CJN submitted a 17-page paper titled ‘’Input by the Judiciary to the Proposed Alteration to the 1999 Constitution (as Amended).
According to him, the CJN submitted before the senate committee contains 45 constitutional amendment proposals on reforms in the Nigerian judiciary.
In item 38, the CJN wants Part 1 of the Third Schedule Paragraph 21 to the Constitution be altered to include sub-paragraph ‘h’ to the effect that NJC should ‘’fix, in conjunction with salaries and wages Commission, Salaries and other emoluments of Judicial Staff; in the case of Judicial Officers, to review such salaries no later than four years from the last exercise’’.
By the dictate of Section 84 (1), the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) reviewed judges’ salary by the enactment of, ’’Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008’’ which came into force on February 1, 2007.
Since this Act have not been reviewed with effect from 2008, judges’ salaries have remained the same for about 13 years.
Speaking further, Justice Tanko asked for the constitution to be amended for NJC Secretary seat to be at par with that of the Clerk of the National Assembly.
The constitution he said should categorically states that the CJN is the head of the judiciary of the Federation; just as he called for the Supreme Court Bench be reduced from 21 to 16.
‘’Section 230 of the constitution is altered by (a) substituting paragraph (a) of the existing subsection (2) with a new paragraph (a)
‘’(a)The Chief Justice of Nigeria who shall be the head of the judiciary of the federation’’
(b)Substituting the words ‘’not exceeding twenty-one’’ in lines 1 to 2 of paragraph (b) of the existing subsection (2) with words ‘’not exceeding sixteen’’.
This is just as he wants person to be appointed Supreme Court Justice not to be less than 25 years of post call to Bar.
All the appeals from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court should be by leave of the Supreme Court and the application for leave can be determined by 3 justices of the apex court sitting in the chamber.
He called for the number of the Court of Appeal Justices pegged at 49 in the constitution under Section 237 be amended now to no less than 100 justices.
NJC should collect, control and disburse all monies, capital and recurrent for the judiciary.
The judiciary is now to exercise control over the Code of Conduct Tribunal, as the Federal Judicial Service Commission is to advice the NJC in nominating persons for appointment as the Chairman and members of the CCT.