The Senate yesterday absolved the federal government of the allegation that it was owing judges four months of salary arrears, saying their salaries have been paid up to date.
The clarification came on the heels of the alarm raised by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, last week that federal judges in the country were being owed salary arrears to the tune four months.
The allegation was of grave concern to the Senate, thus prompting it to mandate its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to investigate the matter and report its findings to the Senate.
However, findings of the committee as reported by its chairman, Senator David Umaru, yesterday was shocking as he said, no federal judge was owed any salary today.
According to Umaru, the output of the committee’s investigative collaboration with the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Ministry of Finance showed that the December salaries of the judges were paid on January 17, 2017 while those of September, October and November 2016 had been paid before the year ended.
He said: “We have carried out the assignment given to us by this hallowed chamber. Myself and distinguished Senator (John) Enoh jointly and severally consulted with the National Judicial Council, a body charged with the responsibility to collect, control and disburse all monies – capital and recurrent – for the judiciary.
“Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance that is responsible for the allocation and disbursement of funds to (ministries, departments and agencies) MDAs was also consulted. We found as a matter of fact that the judges had actually been paid for the month of December and that the judges were not owed in arrears for the remaining months. We have confirmed that the December payment was actually effected on the 17th of January. So, this is the position on that. So, we felt that it is necessary to let this chamber know that there are no outstanding salaries being owed judges,” Umaru said.
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday created two additional committees, thus bringing the number of committees in the 109-member chamber to 68. Aside the 65 committees put in place in 2015, the Senate president had recently inaugurated the Committee on Legislative Compliance headed by Senator Babajide Omoworare (Osun East).
The two newly created committees are Senate Committee on Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While FERMA Committee is chaired by Senator Magnus Abe (APC, Rivers South-east), SDGs Committee is headed by Senator Atai Aidoko Ali (PDP, Kogi East). Both were recently elected into the Senate following rerun polls in their constituencies.
Saraki also appointed the ousted Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) while the former Chairman of the committee, Senator Abu Kyari, was redeployed as Chairman, Defence Committee hitherto headed by Senator Ahmad Lawan who replaced Ndume as Senate Leader.