THE National Judicial Council (NJC), on Thursday condemned some state governments for the non-payment of retirement benefits to judges in their employment, calling on those states to immediately pay up.
In a statement issued on Thursday at the end of the Council’s meeting presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the NJC asked the defaulting states to step up their legal obligations on payment of retirement benefits to judicial officers.
NJC’s statement signed by its Director of Information, Soji Oye, although did not named the states owing judges, it however directed Chief Judges of the affected states to “file reports on compliance, to reach the Council not later than April 1, 2023.”
Many states across the country are also owing retired workers salaries and retirement benefits, years after their exit from service. In some states, workers still in service are owed a backlog of salaries from three to 12 months, in addition to not enjoying promotion for years.
A report by the civic organisation BudgIT shows that at least 12 out of Nigeria’s 36 states owed workers at least one-month salary as of July 28, 2022. According to the report, Abia State has not pay its workers for 22 months.
“The state (Abia) currently owes its state tertiary institution workers six months’ salary, while Ebonyi state has not paid its pensioners in the last six months,” Budgit said in its report last year.
National Record reported how Benue State government has not paid retirees of both the state and local government for over 70 months, a situation that has led to the death of many retirees and stoked hunger in others.
NJC’s statement reads in full.
19 January 2023
- NJC meets on, and very strongly condemns non-payment of retirement benefits/ gratuities of State Judges
The National Judicial Council under the Chairmanship of Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON at its 100th Meeting held on 19 January 2023, deliberated on the worrisome situation whereby many Judicial Officers of the States are being owed their retirement benefits, including severance pay/gratuity and pensions.
After due consideration, Council condemns in very strong terms this act, which is undermining the Rule of Law and Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
It therefore calls on the offending States to ensure that all entitlement of retired Judges are fully settled forthwith.
Council further directed State Chief Judges to file reports on compliance, to reach the Council not later than 1 April 2023.
Soji Oye, Esq