Law News
Lagos not against judiciary autonomy —Ipaye
Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr.  Ade Ipaye

The Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye has decried the shutting down of courts in the state following the industrial action embarked upon by the judicial workers across the country.

The judicial workers, under the aegis of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, had since Monday commenced an indefinite strike to protest the non-compliance of state governments to a judgement upholding the independence and financial autonomy for the Judiciary.

But Ipaye, while stating that Lagos State was favourably disposed to the autonomy of the judiciary and welfare of its judicial officers, said it was unfair that Lagos courts would be shut down in spite of government’s commitment to the wellbeing of the judiciary.

The justice commissioner spoke on Wednesday in the Epe area of the state where some newly-built courtrooms were being commissioned and handed over to the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade.

He said, “The information we have is that the strike is on account of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Federal Government officials and the association, whereby money would be deducted from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government as well as the Federation Account and paid over to the Heads of State Judiciaries. While we have nothing against judicial autonomy in all its ramifications, we are surprised by the plan to allocate the federation account other than to the federal, state and local governments as envisaged by the constitution.

“Apart from being in clear breach of section 162(3), this plan does not disclose a revenue allocation formula upon which the deduction is to be based. As far as we know, the existing allocation formula only contemplates revenue sharing between the federal and state governments, with the latter also taking a share for the benefit of its local government councils.

“The treatment and disbursement of judiciary funds vary from state to state. So do the welfare and funding of the judiciary. Each State branch should therefore meet with the state government to tackle their peculiar problems, if any. Rather than denying them justice, let us call off this strike for the sake of the general public whom we are all employed to serve.”

Earlier, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, had pointed out that the new court being commissioned in Epe was the strategy of his government to bring justice close to the people.

He noted that with the court complex, named in honour of a former Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ligali Ayorinde (retd.), the people of Epe would no longer have to travel out of town to access justice.

On her own part, Atilade said the successful completion of the court complex, conceived in 2008, was another great step in ensuring greater access to justice and ensuring speedy administration of justice in Lagos State.

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