Judicial Autonomy: Governors must respect constitution ― NBA
By Rotimi Ojomoyela, Ado Ekiti
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has lamented the closure of courts across the country, saying the situation has debased the country’s democracy.
The body insisted that the 36 state governors must respect what the 1999 Constitution stipulated on the contending issue of full autonomy for the judiciary.
It regretted that the closure of courts nationwide has not only adversely affected the fortunes of the legal practitioners, urging the governors to swiftly accede to the request of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to resolve the conundrum.
The NBA also urged the federal government to convene a roundtable discussion, where all stakeholders can meet, ruminate and proffer solutions to the senseless killings and kidnapping of innocent Nigerians.
The NBA, Ado Ekiti Branch, said 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).
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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.
Adewumi said Nigerians and recognized groups should be bold enough to demand justice for those whose lives were being wasted as they did during the protest against the scrapped Special Anti Robbery Squad(SARS).
He added: “We are just praying that something would happen that will stop these senseless killings. Government should look into this issue. It is a terrible one. All of us too must be security conscious. We must come to the roundtable because it is getting worse on a daily basis.
“From the North to the South and everywhere, the rate of banditry, kidnapping, killings, and destruction has skyrocketed without any seemingly clear pathway to curtailing them.
” Despite the efforts of security forces, we still hear of kidnappings and killings on a weekly basis. Where do we go from here? Shall we continue to sleep with one eye open? Shall we continue to travel with our hearts in our mouths?”, the NBA boss asked.
Speaking on the Annual Law Week, Adewumi, said the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, is to chair the present at this epoch-making event.
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