Salary: Federal judges, support staff celebrated Xmas, New Year on empty stomachs

judge's wig

Four days after the end of the festive period spanning Christmas and New Year days, over 500 judges across the country and federal judiciary workers have not been paid their December salaries, it is authoritative.

Many staff of the Federal judiciary were in their offices till late last Friday expecting to hear good news from their authorities but they all left home disappointed.

Some of the support staff who were stranded practically turned to beggars last Friday.

Bar and Bench Watch can authoritatively report that staff and judges have been asking questions since after the end of the new year celebration but no answer had come anywhere.

The situation is the same at the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, various high courts in Abuja, and the National Judicial Institute.

A source who preferred anonymity said that Buhari’s government is demanding for impossibilities.

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“How can you be preaching zero tolerance to corruption in the judiciary and you are not paying staff salary?

“Even if judges can manage, what about support staff who salary are nowhere fantastic?” a support staff queried.

It was learnt that as of the time of filing this report on Thursday, the National Judicial Council, which pays the salary of all judges, including those serving in the various state High Courts, had yet to receive the allocation for the salary from its share in the Federation Account.

Apart from state High Court judges across the country, others affected are judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, the FCT Customary Court of Appeal, the FCT Sharia Court of Appeal, the National Industrial Court, the Federal High Court as well as Justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

Workers of federal courts and other federal judiciary institutions comprising, the NJC, the National Judicial Institute and the Federal Judicial Service Commission, are also affected.

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By law, the amount accruable to judges as salary is deducted directly from the portions of the various state governments in the federation account and paid into the NJC’s account for onward payment to the judges.

It was however learnt that the payment of salary of workers of various state judiciaries are not under the control of the NJC.

Our correspondent learnt from some judges who sought not to be quoted because they were not allowed to speak to the press, on Thursday that judges across the country last received salary late November 2016.

One of the judges was quoted by Punch to have said, “We used to receive our December salary before Christmas Day. We had no inkling that the government was going to depart from that this year.

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“Giving the general hardship in the country, going into the Yuletide without the December pay was tough.”

Though, it was learnt that the non-payment of salary affected most federal workers across various ministries, departments and agencies of government, due to the prevailing economic situation in the country.

But Section 81(3) of the constitution provides for Direct Line Charge for the judiciary even when there is shortfall.

The constitutional provision reads, “The amount standing to the credit of the (a) Independent National Electoral Commission (b) National Assembly, and ( c) judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation shall be paid directly to the said bodies respectively; in the case of the Judiciary, such amount shall be paid to the National Judicial Council for disbursement.”