Governors must respect court judgements, constitution on judicial autonomy, says Ekiti MBA

• Laments continuous closure of courtrooms

The Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) Ado-Ekiti branch has insisted that the 36 state governors must respect what the 1999 Constitution and recent judgements stipulated on the contending issue of full autonomy for the judiciary.

The legal body regretted that the closure of courts across the country has not only debased the country’s democracy but has 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 Branch Chairman, Adeyemi Adewumi, spoke, on Monday, at a briefing heralding the 10th Annual Law Week being held in honour of a Legal Icon and founder of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) Aare Afe Babalola, SAN.

The theme of this year’s Law Week is, ‘ The 21st Century Lawyer: Integrating Business Skills with Legal Knowledge.’

According to him, “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 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.”

Adewumi added, “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.”

He disclosed that as part of activities for the Law week, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi would chair the Afe Babalola Public Lecture to be delivered by a seasoned lecturer, Professor Tayo Oke.

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