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AGF, NLC Ask States to Comply with Judgment on Judiciary Funding

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The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Jonah Otunla, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Abdulwaheed Omar and a group,  the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR)  have called on state government to comply with the judgments of the Federal High Court on the funding of the judiciary.

Otunla and Omar, in separate letters asked state governors to release all funds allocated to the judiciary in their states in compliance with the January 13, judgment by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

They said it was imperative that the governors promptly abide by the judgment to enable court workers call off their three weeks old strike.
Court workers in the country had since July 11 embarked on strike following a directive by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
The union said the strike was to compel the executive, particularly at the state level, to obey the judgment delivered by Justice Ademola.

Justice Ademola had in the judgment, held among others, that it was unconstitutional for the executive to withhold or release in piecemeal, funds standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Federation Account and Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The judge directed that such funds should be paid directly to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for onward disbursement to heads of courts in the case of federal judiciary and heads of courts in the case of states’ judiciary as required under sections 81(3), 121(3) and 162(9) of the constitution.
In his letter dated July 17 the AGF noted that, while the federal government had complied with the constitutional provisions, state governors have been reluctant to comply.

“Now that a well constituted court with jurisdictional competence has pronounced on these sections that touch on the constitutionality of the direct block release of money for the judiciary through the NJC, it would be highly appreciated if we comply with the judgment of the Federal High Court to douse the hot tension, stop the strike of JUSUN and recall them to work,” Otunla said.

He drew the governors’ attention to the provision of Section 121(3) of the Constitution which states that “any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the consolidated revenue fund of the state shall be paid directly to the heads of courts concerned.”

Otunla also noted  a similar provision in Section 162(9) which states that “any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Federation Account shall be paid directly to the NJC for disbursement to the heads of courts established for the federation and the states under section 6 of this constitution.”

The AGF, who attached  the January 13 judgment to the letter, noted that the judge “intensely deprecated the present practice of release of funds from the Federation Account to the judiciary as unprocedural, unconstitutional and cumbersome.”

NLC President, in his letter dated July 22, expressed support for the JUSUN strike.
He warned that the governors “will be setting a dangerous precedence to be associated with blatantly refusing to obey a judgment that has been made by a court of competent jurisdiction.

“On behalf of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC, I have the honour of conveying our compliments to you and to bring to your esteem attention the need to implement the direct funding of state courts as contained in the judgment of a Federal High Court. The delay in implementing this court order was provoked by a strike action by the JUSUN, an affiliate of the NLC,” Omar said.

JUSUN has however described the position by the AGF as a mere attempt to evade responsibility and abide by the decision of the court.

JUSUN’s President, Marwan Adamu, said writing letters to the governors was not the action expected of the AGF.
“Both the constitution and the judgment of a competent jurisdiction have given the power to the AGF to deduct directly the money meant for the judiciary and pay it to the NJC. The AGF admitted this in his letter.”

CDWR in a statement yesterday urged the state governors to abide by the provisions of the constitution in the release of funds allocated to the judiciary to enable court workers end their strike.

The  group in the statement by its Publicity Secretary, Chinedu Bosah, said: “We condemn in the strongest terms the pillaging of financial resources meant for the state judiciary by the state governors and call for independent running of the state judiciary under the democratic control of all interest groups in the judiciary including representatives of judicial workers.”

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     AGF     Chief Jonah Otunla     NLC     Abdulwaheed Omar     Justice Adeniyi Ademola     Chinedu Bosah