The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lokoja branch, has called on the Kogi Government to grant financial autonomy to the State’s judiciary in line with Section 121(3) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Mr Liman Salihu, Chairman of the branch, made the call in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja on Saturday.
Salihu particularly called on Gov. Yahaya Bello to solve the lingering issue of financial independence for the judiciary in line with his stance on the Rule of Law and Due Process.
He said; “Section 121(3) of the Constitution, provides that any amount standing to the credit of the Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state shall be paid directly to the heads of courts concerned.”
The essence of the provision, according to him, is to enhance speedy dispensation of justice, improvement of facilities, adequate welfare for judicial staff and reduction of corruption and undue influence.
The chairman said there was a subsisting court order directing the state government to comply with the provision.
He added that the previous administration reached agreement with the state chapter of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), to comply with the provision.
He, therefore, urged the governor to comply and implement the subsisting agreement between JUSUN and the Government on the matter.
Salihu, however, commended the state government for abolishing Joint Allocation Account Committee (JAAC), for Local Governments; a development he said would pave way for financial autonomy of the councils.
He said that financial autonomy for the councils would enable them to meet their constitutional obligations of grassroots development, payment of council workers’ and primary school teachers’ salaries.
According to him, the previous practice of deducting monies from councils’ allocations at the Ministry of Local Government leads to paucity of funds, resulting in percentage payment of workers’ salaries.
He described the percentage payment as “completely unconstitutional, unacceptable and embarrassing to the system.”
Salihu also commended Bello for implementing the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which ordered the reinstatement of the 21 local government chairmen.
NAN recalls that the chairmen were sacked by a Koton-Karfe High Court on Dec. 8, 2014.
“Observance of the Rule of Law is the hallmark of Nigeria’s constitution and for democracy to thrive, public officers must always adhere to the rule of law”, Salihu said. (NAN)
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