NBA Lagos Law Week 2021: Is Financial Autonomy For The Judiciary A Clamour For Independence Or A Case Of Dwindling Available Resources?- Maikyau
Y. C. Maikyau, SAN has stated that lawyers should try to look at the issues and ask themselves the question, “what have we (Bar and Bench) done or not done to bring the judiciary to where it is today. in line with constitutional provisions. In what way have we allowed this to happen? We who have the expertise by our training to say what A is allowed to do or not to do, have abdicated our responsibility by our acquiescence, while we are complaining about the situation.” He further asked whether, given the dwindling economy this clamour is truly for financial autonomy or sufficiency.
Maikyau who spoke at the 5th plenary session of the NBA Lagos annual law week titled “Financial Autonomy of the Judiciary: Key to Judicial Independence or Ruse”, said everyone should be interested in the attainment of justice; both the executive and the legislature should as much be concerned about the need to do justice and must play their respective roles to achieve that objective. He stated that what he saw from the legislature as deceitful, for want of a better word, was the way the issue of remuneration is dealt with in the Constitution.
Maikyau said if the legislature had made sure that the judiciary was put in the position where nobody could interfere with its functions, then the issue that is currently being dealt with. may not have arisen.
He also maintained that the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in the 3rd schedule of the Constitution, named those for whom the RMAFC prescribes salaries and allowances and under section 84 of the constitution referred to in the 3rd schedule, the rule is that their salaries and allowances should not be reviewed in a way that will be disadvantageous. The prescription by RMAFC becomes the ceiling on what the officers listed in the section can earn. Interestingly, the legislators were omitted from the officers mentioned in Section 84 of the Constitution, giving the impression that they are not subject to the limits set by the RMAFC.
He said the Judiciary is left with having to deal with this by themselves and there is just so much they can do. Judges have not had their salaries and allowances reviewed since 2007. He spoke of a judge whose salary and allowance had not been reviewed for 23 years; on the other hand however, we cannot even say what the legislators earn.
In conclusion he stated that while financial autonomy is very important, he believed that for there to be an independent judiciary at least 80% character and 20% financial independence is needed.
See photos of the panelists at the fifth session of the NBA Lagos Law week below…