Monday, May 10

Governors must respect constitution on judicial autonomy, NBA Insists

The Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) has disapproved the shutdown of courts across the nation, saying the situation has distorted the country’s democracy.

It insisted that the 36 state governors must respect what the 1999 Constitution stipulated on the contending matter of full autonomy for the judiciary.

The NBA, Ado Ekiti Branch,revealed these in Ado Ekiti at a press conference heralding the 10th Annual Law Week being held in honour of a Legal Icon, Chief Afe Babalola(SAN).

The Branch Chairman, Barr Adeyemi Adewumi, who gave the theme of this year’s Law week as:  “The 21st Century Lawyer: Integrating Business Skills with Legal Knowledge”, said: “The Courts are shut due to the strike action by JUSUN, who are agitating for the implementation of financial autonomy by the Executive, for the Judiciary.

“And to attain a true separation of power, the other arms of Government; judiciary and Legislature must be weaned from the breast of the executive, that is, become independent in all-wise, particularly financially. This is the only way public perception can become re-engineered towards a trust for the Judiciary and the Legislature.

“Section 81 (1) and 123 of the 1999 Constitution as Amended guarantees financial autonomy to the Judiciary. Meanwhile, following the refusal of the Government to implement this autonomy, JUSUN and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN had sued the Government in two different cases at the Federal High Court, where both cases were won.

“Pursuant to the judgment, the Federal Government had eventually complied when the President issued the Executive Order 10 which authorised the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct the fund standing with the credit of the Judiciary in the consolidated revenue of each State.

“This was challenged by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). It is a pity that the Government had allowed this issue to degenerate to the level where Courts and Legislative Houses have to be shut before the right thing would be done.

“Thus, the NBA is in solidarity with the demands of JUSUN on financial autonomy for the Judiciary notwithstanding the temporary pains this industrial action may cause to lawyers’ welfare or work. We have resolved to stand by them because we believe in this cause for the good of all. We, therefore call on the Government of Ekiti State, and indeed all State Governments to attend to this matter with the urgency it deserves.

“The closure of court, Lawyers are the worst hit and we are calling on the government to please adhere to our request. They should follow what the law says concerning financial autonomy to the judiciary. This is not even about the executive order, but our Constitution.


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