Only FG Can Guarantee Financial Autonomy For Judiciary Says SAN

Only FG Can Guarantee Financial Autonomy For Judiciary Says SAN

Only FG Can Guarantee Financial Autonomy For Judiciary Says SAN

Only FG Can Guarantee Financial Autonomy For Judiciary Says SAN

Sebastian Hon, a constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), claims that the Federal Government, not any state, is responsible for the judiciary’s financial independence.

In a letter to Nigeria’s Chief Justice titled “The JUSUN Strike Action and the Correct Position of the Constitution on Financial Independence for the Judiciary in Nigeria,” Hon made the claim.

The senior lawyer argued that if the constitution had been correctly understood and interpreted by parties, the current indefinite nationwide strike by judiciary staff could have been avoided.

According to him, the 1999 Constitution contains far-reaching provisions that guarantee financial independence for both Nigeria’s superior and inferior courts in explicit and unequivocal terms.

According to him, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), High Court of a State, Sharia Court of Appeal, FCT, Sharia Court of Appeal of a State, Customary Court of Appeal of FCT, and Customary Court of Appeal of a State are all considered courts of superior records under Section 6 of the constitution.

He insisted that whether it was the Federal High Court or a State’s High Court, they were both products of the federal government.

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“The Federal Republic of Nigeria is described as a federation in Section 318(1). Clearly, the framers of the constitution intended for certain courts that are incorrectly referred to as state courts to be referred to as courts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“This means they’re federal courts, but they’re set up for each state solely for geographical and administrative reasons,” he explained.

He chastised President Muhammadu Buhari for issuing Executive Order 10, which he said recommended other budgetary methods for states not contemplated by the constitution.

“Executive Order 10 also runs counter to the express provisions of Sections 6(1), (3), and (5), as well as Sections 81(3) and (4)(7) of the Constitution.

“It is in conflict with Section 121(3) as amended, because, contrary to Mr. President’s incorrect assumption, neither the original text nor the amended version of that subsection has anything to do with superior courts of records, even if they are located in different states and serve as state courts.”

He demanded that the National Judicial Council (NJC) take responsibility for compiling, collating, and fine-tuning budgetary figures for superior courts of record from the different heads of the courts as soon as possible.

This, he said, was for distribution to the federation’s budget office, where it will be included in the federation’s annual budget.

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He also requested that the NJC disburse funds intended for superior courts of record directly to them once the funds were available.

According to the Nigerian News Agency (NAN), JUSUN began a nationwide strike on April 6, when the union ordered all of its members across the federation to shut down all courts following the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum issued by the government for the government’s failure to enforce the legislation.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, expressed hope on May 6 after a conciliation meeting between the government negotiation team and JUSUN and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN).

According to InsideGist.Com.Ng, President Muhammadu Buhari signed an Executive Order granting financial autonomy to the legislature and judiciary across the 36 states of the federation on May 22, 2020.

All states must provide the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets, according to Executive Order No. 10 of 2020.

The order also directs the federation’s accountant general to subtract from the monthly allocation to each state the sum owed to state legislatures and judiciaries for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.

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