The National Judicial Council (NJC) has been asked to harmonise retirement benefits of retired judges of state High Courts, saying that such was in line with section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a motion by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP) representing Enugu North Senatorial district, he explained that state High Court judges passed through NJC, adding that the same NJC should be involved in payment of their retirement benefits.
He further explained: Notwithstanding that state High Court judges’ salaries and emoluments were placed on first line charges in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, he asked that their retirement be also treated the same.
Utazi stressed that the current situation where they were being paid by states has created woeful situation due to non payment of benefits as at when due.
“Curious that while their salaries are routed through the NJC, the retirement benefits of states judicial officers of Superior Courts of Record as recognised by section 6 of the Constitution were left to States to be paid on their retirement,” Utazi maintained.
According to him, it does not also support independency with which the judicial institution should be noted for.
He reasoned further that the consideration of payment of benefits would encourage them having invested their youthful age, adding that as retired judges, they have been denied of going into private legal practice.
Contributing, Senator Gbenga Ashafa urged the Senate to step down discussion, saying that it was a constitutional matter.
Utazi, however, drew the attention of Senate to the constitutional provisions on the need for the Chambers to take stands.
In his ruling, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, sustained that the NJC takes responsibilities for payment of retirement benefits.
Saraki also said, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters should review relevant laws with a view to clear ways for prompt payment of retirement benefits of retired judicial officers.