BREAKING - MAJOR VICTORY FOR JUDICIARY: FEDERAL HIGH COURT UPHOLDS FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

Justice A.R Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja has this morning declared unconstitutional the Executive interference with judicial funding. The Court held that the continued dependence of the judiciary on the Executive Arm for its Budgeting and funds release violates Section 81 (2) and Section 84(1), (2), (3), (4) and (7) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

If you recall on 07th February, 2013, Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN (the Plaintiff), approached the Court to challenge the present appropriation practice whereby the Judicial Arm of Government is dependent on the Executive Arm of Government for judicial estimates and funding. In the case, Olisa Agbakoba v (1)Attorney General of the Federation, (2) The National Judicial Council & (3) The National Assembly. Dr. Agbakoba SAN sought the following reliefs which were all granted by the Court:

1.       A Declaration that by Section 81 (2) and Section 84(1), (2), (3), (4) and (7) CFRN 1999 the remuneration, salaries, allowances and recurrent expenditures of the Judiciary, being constitutionally guaranteed charges (or "First Charge") on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, DO NOT form part of the estimates to be included in the Appropriation Bill as proposed expenditures by the President as is the present practice.

2.         A Declaration that by virtue of the constitutional guarantee of independent funding of the judiciary under Section 81 (1), (2) and (3) (c) and Section 84(2), (3), (4) and (7) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (CFRN 1999), the 2nd Defendant ought NOT to send its annual budget estimates to the Budget Office of the Executive Arm of Government or any other Executive Authority as is the present practice BUT ought to send the estimates directly to the 3rd Defendant for appropriation.

3.         A Declaration that by virtue of Section 81 (3) CFRN 1999, any amount standing to the credit of the Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation ought NOT be released to the Judiciary in warrants or other means through the Federal Ministry, the Budget Office, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation or any other person or authority in the Executive Arm as is the present practice, BUT to be paid directly in whole to the 2nd Defendant for disbursement.

4.         A Declaration that the continued Dependence of the Judiciary on the Executive Arm, represented by the 1st Defendant for its Budgeting and Funds Release is directly responsible for the present state of under-funding of the Judiciary, poor and inadequate judicial infrastructure, low morale among judicial personnel, alleged corruption in the Judiciary, delays in administration of justice and judicial services delivery and general low quality and poor out-put by the Judiciary.

5.         A Declaration that the present practice on Judiciary funding by the Defendants, which is DEPENDENT on the Executive Arm in budgeting and release if funds IS in violation of section 81 (2), (3) (c) and 84(2), (7) CFRN 1999 and therefore unconstitutional, null and void.

6.         Perpetual injunction against the Defendants from all practices on Judiciary funding which run contrary to Sections 81 (2) (3) and 84(2) (7) CFRN 1999, to wit, submitting Judiciary's estimates to the Executive instead of directly to the 3rd Defendant and release of the Judiciary's fund in warrants by the Executive instead of directly to the 3rd Defendant for disbursement.

7.         A Consequential Order, restraining the 1st and 3rd Defendants from appropriating the funds for the Judiciary in the Annual Appropriation Act.

8.         A Directive that the 2nd Defendant shall prepare the Judiciary's annual estimate as charged upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation and submit it to the Accountant General of the federation for Constitutional Transfer to the 2nd Defendant.

This is a major victory for the Judiciary.

Babatunde Ogungbamila
HEAD LITIGATION; Olisa Agbakoba & Associates


Olisa Agbakoba recommends to National Conference Bill on Devolution of Powers in Nigeria

Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN today recommended to the National Conference his Bill on Devolution of Powers titled, Constitution (4th Amendment, Devolution of Powers) Act 2011. Some of the devolved powers from the Federal to the States in the Bill include:

o    Arbitration
o    Trade commerce except external
o    Drivers license!!!
o    Bankruptcy
o    Insurance
o    Prisons
o    Evidence
o    Labour relations
o    Water resources
o    Pensions
o    Taxes except companies
o    Municipal Police
o    Judicial powers and court systems (except Supreme Court)
o    Electric power
o    Natural and mineral resources excluding petroleum and gas
o    Education – especially primary and secondary
o    Income security
o    Healthcare
o    Environment
o    Agriculture
o    Municipal affairs – local government, etc
o    Criminal law – except Federal
o    Inland waterways and Ports
o    Zonal Institutions
o    Economic development; e.g.
o    Niger Delta Development Commission
o    New Regional Appeals Court; e.g. South-West Appeals Court etc

Click here to view the Constitution (4th Amendment, Devolution of Powers) Bill 2011.

Press release: 22nd April 2014

Olisa Agbakoba vs. Attorney General of the Federation & National Assembly Suit No. FHC/L/CS/545/2014

Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN (the Applicant) has filed a fundamental rights enforcement application against the Attorney General of the Federation and National Assembly at the Federal High Court, Lagos. The Applicants compliant is against the unconstitutional restriction and interference with his right to religious freedom and freedom from religious discrimination by the state through the Marriage Act and Matrimonial Causes Act contrary to Section 38 and 42 of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)

The gist of the Applicant's case is that:

  1. He is a Christian and so is entitled under the Constitution to conduct his marriage in accordance with Cannon law. But the state through the Marriage Act and Matrimonial Causes Act compels him to conduct a secular marriage contrary to his faith/belie
  2. The Applicant wants to like adherents of other faiths (for example African Traditional Religion and Islam) to resolve his marriage disputes in courts manned by persons knowledgeable in Cannon law but is compelled by the state through the Matrimonial Causes Act to use secular courts manned by persons with little or no knowledge of Cannon law.
  3. The Applicant believes this violates his right to religious freedom and freedom from religious discrimination.

 

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.


Read/View the Applicant Court processes here

 


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