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Don't Tamper With Judicial Funds, Court Tells FG, Governors

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, January 13, (THEWILL) -  The Federal Government and the 36 States governors have been restrained from holding on to funds meant for the judiciary.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which gave the order on Monday directed that funds meant for the judiciary should rather be disbursed directly to the heads of court and not to the executive arm of government.

Presiding judge of the court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, gave the order while ruling in a suit filed by the Judiciary Staff Association of Nigeria (JUSUN), saying the workers have the standing to ask both the Federal Government and the states to comply with the provisions of the constitution as they affected the funding of the judiciary.

He noted that the practice of the executive disbursing funds to the judiciary was unconstitutional and also threatened the independence of the judiciary.

Relying on the provisions of sections 83(1), 212(3) and 162(9) of the constitution of as amended, Justice Ademola said  the provisions were clear and straightforward and should therefore be complied with.

"The Attorney General of the Federation and the states should act responsibly and promptly to avoid constitutional crisis in this country by ensuring financial autonomy for the judiciary, " he said.

He maintained that the era of  the  judiciary   going cap in hand to beg the executive for fund was over, stressing  that the piecemeal allocation of funds through the states' ministry of finance to the states' judiciary at the Federal Government and states' pleasure, was unconstitutional, un-procedural, cumbersome, null, void, and  should be stopped forthwith.

JUSUN had listed the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Federal Government and the 36 states as defendants in te suit.

The workers expressed  dissatisfaction   with the way and manner the Federation Account/Consolidated Revenue Fund  of the federal and states were being handled , saying  their members' welfare had suffered as a result of the  practice.

Justice Ademola also issued an order compelling the defendants to comply with the provisions of sections 81(3), 212(3) and 162(9) of the constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended in the disbursement of funds to the heads of courts forthwith.

He therefore issued an  order of perpetual injunction perpetually restraining the defendants from committing any further breach of the afore-said constitutional/statutory provisions.

Noting  that both the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) enjoyed independence  of funding , the judge said    the same should apply to the judiciary in accordance with the constitution, And to ensure compliance with  the orders,    Justice Ademola made ancillary orders to the effect that the judgment be served on the Accountant General of the Federation and the Accountants General of all the 36 states to enable them comply with orders therein.

Justice Ademola also ordered that the judgment be served on the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Speakers of the 36 states of the Federation to enable them comply with the judgment.

He however refused to grant JUSUN's prayer asking him  to declare that the defendants were in breach of the relevant provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 cum states' relevant fiscal responsibility laws in the way and manner they disbursed funds to the states' judiciary.

Justice Ademola however  said  the states were not under obligation to implement the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act because it was a law made by the Federal Government.