Olalekan Babatunde, a former Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association, Ife Branch, says state governors are violating the constitution by hindering financial autonomy of judiciary.
Babatunde made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, on Thursday, in Ile-Ife.
“They have refused to comply with relevant sections of the constitution which grants financial autonomy to the judiciary, even after a court judgment.
“The refusal of the governors to implement this provision of the constitution and orders of the court is unfortunate.
“Governors are the obstacle to autonomy for the judiciary,” he said.
“The strike wouldn’t have happened if the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) complied with the Federal High Court judgment,” he said.
He urged the governors to comply with the judgment of a Federal High Court that recognised the financial autonomy of the judiciary in order to save the country from imminent chaos.
“So if we want an independent, corrupt free judiciary that would stand as the last hope for common man, the governors should allow the judiciary to have financial autonomy.
“This would pave way for the judiciary to dispense its own resources just as the executive and legislative arms of government are also doing,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that JUSUN on April 6, following a directive on its members to shut down all courts across the country, members complied with the directive and mounted guard at the entrance of the courts to ensure that no one entered the court premises.
The action has crippled court proceedings as well as commercial activities around the court premises.
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 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.
He 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, the representatives of the judiciary, the representatives of the Conference of Speakers, and House of Representatives.