Senate blames retired state judges plight on non-payment of benefits

The Senate during a plenary

The Senate yesterday said most retired state judicial officers in the country wallow in poverty and have been eating crumbs due to non-payment of their retirement benefits by state governments.

It was gathered that most of them are dying of misery and hopelessness, having retired from active service.The upper chamber, therefore, directed its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to review the laws impeding the harmonisation of the processes and prompt payment of retirement benefits of all judicial officers in the country.

The resolution followed the adopted motion titled: The Plight of Retired Judges of State High Courts and the Need to Harmonize the Process of Paying the Retirement Benefits of all Judges of Superior Courts in Nigeria, sponsored by Chukwuka Utazi.

In his lead debate on the motion, Utazi, who represents Enugu North Senatorial District, said the bleak life in retirement of judicial officers in the state would compel them to take bribes, to safeguard themselves against the rainy day.

He said the development, if left unchecked, was capable of eroding integrity and the fight against corruption trending in the polity.In their contributions, the senators affirmed that the constitution had placed the salaries of federal and state judicial officers as a first line charge on the consolidated revenue fund to secure the independence of the judiciary.

This, they argued, was usually was transmitted through the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the sub-authorities.The lawmakers regretted that only the federal judicial officers were being paid their retirement benefits covering severance gratuities, pension and arrears of pension, leaving the retired judges to their fate in the hands of the state governments who hardly pay them.

Nevertheless, the Senate directed a probe of the unpaid retirement benefits and urged the NJC to harmonise the payment, as it had done with salaries and emoluments of judicial officers listed in section six of the constitution.

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