Financial autonomy will address decaying judicial infrastructure – Lawyers

Some lawyers on Friday said that financial autonomy will address the  decaying judicial infrastructure.

They lamented the lack of functional court rooms and other basic facilities.

Mr James Ajibola, the legal adviser to the Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Oyo State Council said;”the entire infrastructure in the judiciary sector across the country are in a state of disrepair.

”The general welfare of judicial officers is humiliating across the states of the federation.

“It is pathetic that many judges use cars. Worn out furniture and fans,” he said.

He said that magistrates’ and customary courts were extremely underfunded.

“In 2019, the pandemic did not allow many cases to move, this year, strike has crippled sitting and by July, judges would go on vacation and might not resume until September or October.

Also contributing, Kazeem Lawal, an Abuja-based lawyer, called for urgent need for the immediate review of the emoluments of judicial officers especially those at the senior courts whose salaries had not been reviewed upward in the last 13 years.

“The independence of the judiciary is very important because it is seen as last hope of common man.

“There is need to take urgent steps to improve on the welfare of judicial officers in view of the critical role of the judiciary in safeguarding the nation’s democracy.

“There is no gain saying that judges do important and extremely sensitive work. Yet, there has been no corresponding improvement in the welfare of judicial officers as a result of more none adherence to the constitutional provisions on the financial autonomy of the judiciary,” he said.

NAN reports that the 64-day- strike, the longest industrial action in the Nigerian judiciary was suspended on Wednesday, following a meeting officials of the union and the National Judicial Council (NJC) led by the Chief Justice of (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.

NAN reports that courts are to re-open on June 14.

NAN reports that the union 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.

NAN reports that a verdict of the in ’s , 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 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 Attorney General of the Federation Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said 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 -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 said it will start implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary latest by May ending, a pledge that indicated 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 off their two weeks strike then.

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 .

Fayemi said the modalities for the implementation were worked out at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa.

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, representatives of the judiciary, Conference of Speakers and House of Representatives.

The 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. (NAN)