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Courts’ Registrars, JUSUN Ask Judiciary to Submit Budget to National Assembly
National-Assembly

National-Assembly

The Association of Court Registrars and Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) have called on both the federal and states judiciaries to submit their budget proposals  to either the National Assembly or states Houses of Assembly for appropriation with effect from 2015 budget.

At a meeting of the two judiciary bodies held at the Supreme Court in Abuja and chaired by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr. Sunday Olorundahunsi, and the JUSUN president, Marwan Adamu, it was resolved that it would amount to contempt of court to submit budget proposals to the federal and states budget and planning office or commission.

They  also called on  the federal and state judiciaries  not to agree to budgetary ceilings likely to be placed by the federal government and some state governors to subvert judiciary financial autonomy.

The meeting  was attended by the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Mrs. Rosemary Onnome Dugbo-Oghoghorie, Registrars of the various divisions of the Court of Appeal and states’ High Courts, Sharia and the Customary Courts of Appeal.
The registrars  resolved that “it shall be tantamount to contempt of court on the side of the executive at both levels to place a ceiling on the amounts judiciary can budget for.”

In a motion raised by the Customary Court of Appeal’s Chief Registrar of Abia State, Mr. Benson Anya, he stated that let it be resolved that, “the federal and state judiciaries be mandated not to forward their budget proposals to the federal and states budget and planning office or commission but take them straight to the National and States House of Assembly for appropriation.’’
The motion was unanimously  adopted by the chief registrars from the five geo-political zones.

The second motion was moved by the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Mrs. Rosemary Onnome Dugbo-Oghoghorie and it read: “All federal and state judiciaries shall not be ready for budgetary ceiling, which shall be tantamount to contempt of court by whoever does that.’’ This was also unanimously resolved.

According to the JUSUN President, Adammu, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, had written a cover letter attached to the judgment of a Federal High Court to all the 36 state governors, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the Attorney General of the Federation informing them on the need to comply with the court order.

JUSUN, he said, had held series of meeting with the Minister of State for Finance whom he said had agreed to comply with the court order.

JUSUN is expected to present copies of the budgets for the judiciary in 12 states at the next meeting with the minister.
The union had already presented the figures for 24 states, as demanded by the minister of state in order to begin implementing the court order.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja while ruling on a  suit filed by JUSUN challenging the piecemeal release of funds  to the judiciary from the consolidated revenue fund contrary to the provisions of sections 81(3), 121(3) and 162(9) of the 1999 Constitution, had in January restrained the federal government, the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) from holding on to funds budgeted for the judiciary.

Ademola ordered that the funds meant for the judiciary  be released directly to the heads of courts and not to the executive arm of government.

He described the disbursement of funds for the judiciary by the executive as unconstitutional and a threat to the independence of the judiciary.

Relying on the provisions of sections 83(1), 212(3) and 162(9) of the Constitution, the judge held that the system whereby both the federal and state governments pay funds accruing to the judiciary from the consolidated revenue in piecemeal was a breach of the constitution and that the provisions were clear and straightforward and should therefore be complied with.

“The AGF and the states should act responsibly and promptly to avoid constitutional crisis in this country by ensuring financial autonomy for the judiciary,” he said.

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