A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association ( NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, on Sunday urged governors of the 36 states in the country to obey the court’s ruling on the financial autonomy of the judiciary in the states.
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had in a Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/667/13 filed against the National Judicial Council, the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the Attorney-Generals of the States in 2013 claimed reliefs for the implementation of the financial autonomy of the Judiciary in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, who delivered judgment in the suit on January 14, 2014, held that the defendants’ refusal to pay funds/amount standing to the credit of the states’ judiciary was a constitutional breach that has to be abated forthwith.
He declared that the piece-meal payments/allocation of funds through the states’ Ministry of Finance to the state’s judiciary at the defendants’ pleasure was unconstitutional, unprocedural cumbersome, null, void, and be abated forthwith.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on May 22, 2020, signed into law Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, granting financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the federation.
The Order required all states to include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budget.
It also mandated the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source amount due to the state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state that refuses to grant such autonomy
The judicial workers had last week embarked on a nationwide strike to press home their demand for financial autonomy to the judiciary in the states.
In a letter to the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the ex-NBA President expressed sadness at the unavoidable strike by JUSUN.
He added that the strike has paralysed activities in courts nationwide.
Agbakoba urged the governors to observe the rule of law and obey the various court judgments on the matter.
He wrote: “.I am saddened by the avoidable strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) because of the stress it has caused the judicial system. A simple way out is for state governors to observe the rule of law and obey the Judgments of the court.
“Sections 81 (3) and 121 (3) of the Constitution of Nigeria, grants financial autonomy to Federal and State Judiciaries. This has been confirmed by courts in the following cases:
1. JUDICIARY STAFF UNION OF NIGERIA VS NATIONAL JUDICIARY COUNCIL & GOVERNORS OF THE 36 STATES IN SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/667/13
2. OLISA AGBAKOBA VS FG, THE NJC & NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SUIT NO. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013 and
3. OLISA AGBKAOBA VS AG, EKITI STATE & 2 OTHERS SUIT No. NAD/56/2013
“President Buhari has affirmed the decisions of the courts by issuing Executive Order 10 of 2020, in exercise of his powers under Section 5 of the Constitution to ensure execution and maintenance of the constitution which includes enforcement of decisions of the court.
“State Governors should please enforce the decisions of the court and save the country from this chaos. JUSUN is absolutely correct to pursue a policy of financial independence of the courts guaranteed by the Constitution and affirmed by three decisions of superior courts of Nigeria.”
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