A former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Ogun, Mr Emmanuel Olu-Alade, has urged the federal government to deduct and pay funds meant for the judiciary to the heads of the courts concerned.Olu-Alade made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ota, Ogun.He urged the Federal Government to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation and Accountant General to deduct from source monies standing to the credit of the judiciary.”’The provisions of Constitution are clear to the extent that the Judiciary both at the Federal and State Level shall be independent in line with Section 121 (3), Section 81 (3) and Section 162(9).”
The Federal Government should resolve the prolonged judiciary workers strike through provisions in the Constitution,” he said.Olu-Alade said the strike was regrettable as the judiciary staff had to embark on industrial action to compel the executive to comply with the law that guarantees autonomy for the judiciary.“The strike was unfortunate as the constitution is so clear as regards autonomy for various arms of governments which includes the judiciary and the legislative.”
The autonomy of various arms of governments should not have created any problem since President Muhammadu Buhari signed executive order 10 to that effect in 2019,” he said.Olu-Alade said the same should equally be done to Local Governments and Houses of Assembly.
NAN reports that the union had, on May 5, vowed that the industrial action embarked upon to demand financial autonomy for state judiciaries would not be called off until the governors complied with the constitutional provisions.
JUSUN had begun a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 6, when the union directed all its members across the federation to shut down all courts after the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum earlier given over the failure of the government to implement the law.
However on May 6, after a conciliation meeting between the government negotiating team with JUSUN and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, expressed optimism that the workers’ union would soon call off the strike.
NAN reports that a verdict of the Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, had in January 2014, held that financial autonomy for the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government.
NAN reports that on May 23, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country.
The order also mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, made it mandatory that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.
According to the AGF, “a Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”
NAN reports that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said they will start implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary latest by May ending, a pledge that indicates that an end to the ongoing strike that has crippled the nation’s judiciary may be in sight.
The governors also called on striking members of the JUSUN to call off their two weeks old strike.
The chairman of the NGF, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, gave this assurance in an interview with journalists after meeting with ‘stakeholders’ from the state judiciary and legislature at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
According to him, the meeting, chaired by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, was attended by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, the representatives of the judiciary, the representatives of the Conference of Speakers, and House of Representatives.
The first line charge status, which is being respected by the federal government in respect of the federal judiciary, entitles the state judiciaries to get funds due to them directly from the federation account.
The governors rushed to court in 2020 to challenge an executive order signed by President Buhari for the enforcement of the first line charge status of both the state judiciary and legislature.
They argued that executive order which directs the accountant-general of the federation to deduct funds meant for the state judiciaries and legislatures in the federation account and pay it to them was “unconstitutional”. (NAN)