Seven honourable judges of the Plateau State Government, through their lawyer, Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN, have written to the governor, Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, to demand their unpaid housing and vehicle allowances.
The judges wrote to the governor on the basis of the Judicial Act which
prescribes that allowance to all judicial officers, including accommodation and mobility, in a particular state is an exclusive responsibility of state governments.
According to the judges, the Plateau State government has over the years found it more convenient to pay judges 200% of their annual basic salary yearly in lieu of accommodation.
However, for them, this stopped in 2015.
The judges, in the letter, which was exclusively sighted by The Street Journal, demanded an explanation as to why such unfair treatment was given to them when fellow judges and judicial officers of the Customary Court of Appeal have been paid their accommodation allowance up to the year 2019; and other judges appointed in May 2019, had been paid a whopping three years accommodation allowance in advance.
Among the judges who wrote to Mr Lalong include Hon. Justice Muhammad I. Sirajo, Hon. Justice Christine L. Dabup, Hon. Justice Arum I. Ashom, Hon. Justice Iliya I. Kunda and Hon. Justice Samuel P. Gang.
Others are Hon. Justice Nanpon J. Dadi and Hon. Justice Nafisa L. Musa.
The demand of the judges comes just as their counterparts in Lagos State were handed out over 51 vehicles and eight houses.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu while handing over the houses and cars at the Ikeja High Court on Wednesday, pledged that no arm of Government in the state will be deprived of requisite tools to perform its statutory duties.
It is worthy to note that this would be the second time in a year Gov Sanwo-Olu would be giving out official vehicles to members of the State’s judiciary. In October 2019, the Governor gave out 50 official cars to magistrates to aid their duties.
“In handing over these 51 vehicles to our judges and eight houses to the newly appointed judges of the state High Court, we are ensuring that our judiciary has all it takes to seamlessly perform its duties as the bastion of the common man. We cherish the work you do; we thank you for justifying the confidence reposed in you; we appreciate you for being independent umpires even when the stakes are high,” Sanwo-Olu said while handing over the vehicles.
The letter to Gov. Lalong revealed that the state government owed the seven (7) judges a total of N119,112,840.00 (One Hundred and Nineteen Million, One Hundred and Twelve Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty Naira Only), as allowances for accommodation.
The letter read in part:
It is our Clients’ further instruction that as it stands, the Plateau State Government is indebted to each of our Clients listed as 1-5 above, accommodation allowance for the period of 2016 to 2020 (5 years) in the manner stated below:
- Annual basic salary= N1,804,740.20
- 200% of basic salary=N 3,609,480.00
- Accommodation allowance for the period of 5 years is N3,609,480.00 x 5 years = N 18,047,400.00
As for our Clients listed in 6 & 7 above Sir, their outstanding accommodation allowance is for 4 years covering the year 2017 to 2020. Hence, the accommodation allowance due to each of them is as stated in the manner below:
- N3,609,480.00 x 4 years = N14,437,920.
The sum total of the accommodation allowance due to our Clients listed as 1 to 5 is N 90,237,000.00 whilst that of those listed as numbers 6 to 7 is N28,875,840.00
Grand total of accommodation allowance due to our Clients is N119,112,840.00 (One Hundred and Nineteen Million, One Hundred and Twelve Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty Naira Only).
When The Street Journal, at press time, contacted the Commissioner for Information in the state, Mr Dan Manjang, to inquire why these particular judges were sidelined and if the governor was looking to meet their demands, he neither picked up his calls nor responded to our text message.