October 6, 2022

KAPEB.COM

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Nigeria too big to have 100,000 lawyers – SAN

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Epiphany Azinge, on Monday expressed fears that the 100,000 number of practising lawyers in the country were not enough for the Nigerian population.

He also called on the Federal Government to comply with the judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria which ordered a humongous increase in the salaries of Judges to improve on their condition of service.

The PUNCH had reported that the NICN gave the order while delivering judgment in a suit filed against the Federal Government by Chief Sebastine (SAN).

Justice Osatohanmen
Obaseki-Osaghae had in the judgement delivered on Friday July 15 2022, ordered the Federal Government to put machinery in place for the immediate review of the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers in Nigeria.

He had held that the current salaries and allowances of judicial officers in the country was not only abysmally low but also embarrassing.

The judge had ordered the Federal Government to commence a monthly payment of N10 million to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, N9 million to other Justices of the Supreme Court, N9 million for President of the Court of Appeal.

Also, other Justices of the Appellate Court would get N8 million; Chief Judges of both Federal and States High Courts (N8 million), while Judges of the Federal and States High Courts would receive N7 million.

Azinge spoke with journalists in Abuja while unveiling activities to mark the 42nd reunion and anniversary of the Class of 1980 of the Nigerian Law School.

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As part of the programme, the 1980 NLS class would be instituting an award with N5 million seed money in which the best male and female students would be recognized and awarded annually from the accrued interest from the investment.

The ex-NIALS boss said that with the population of Nigeria, the number of practising lawyers fell short of expectation.

He said, “The 100,000 practising lawyers in Nigeria is not enough compared to the over 200 million population of the country.

“The judgement is to give the Salaries and Wages Commission the tone for further engagement and negotiation, so it may not end up being N10 million per month as salary for the CJN.

“It may come down to an extent, but again, the important thing is that the judicial pronouncement has tone for further negotiations and further engagement.

“But, let it be on record that the Judiciary deserves the best, because you cannot be accusing judges of corruption and at the end of the day you are still starving them of funds.

“If you are accusing them of corruption, free them, give them what they are entitled to. And then, allow them to express themselves, then you will see that all things about corruption on the bench will go away. Make them comfortable.”

Azinge said the week-long activities, which began on July 17 with prayers, would feature, among others, a lecture on and launch of a N5 million endowment fund at the NLS on July 19 and would end on July 22 with a gala dinner scheduled for the National Judicial Institute.

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According to him, some of the activities would be attended by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, among other eminent personalities.

He identified some notable members of the NLS Class of 1980 to include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem.

The chairman, organising committee of the one-week event and former Secretary, National Judicial Service Commission, Bilkisu A. Bashir, reiterated the imperative of the activities lined up by the 1980 set.

She said the set has lost about 101 members out of about 500 members, adding that it was necessary for them to give back to the school.