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April 21, 2021

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Why I can’t beg governors over judiciary’s financial autonomy – CJN

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, has spoken on the crippling nationwide strike embarked upon by judiciary workers on Tuesday.

The leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had called for the strike to demand financial autonomy for the Nigerian judiciary at all levels.

A statement by the CJN’s media aide, Ahuraka Isah, said Mr Muhammad met with a delegation of the leadership of JUSUN at his Supreme Court chambers in Abuja where he descried the negative impact of the strike on court users on Tuesday.

The statement quoted the CJN as saying that would have ordinarily called each of the 36 state governors to give effect to the financial autonomy status of state judiciary, but for the fact that such could amount to asking for favour from them.

He said, “The unintended sufferers of this strike are better imagined. It has spiral effects, including on our children and on the federal judiciary, which is a lesser culprit.

“Ordinarily, I would say let me talk to the individual 36 state governors, which amounts to asking for their favours, but some of them would ask me to do 10 favours in return.

“This is why as a judge I am prohibited from asking for favours.”

The National Treasurer of JUSUN, Jimoh Musa, who led the union’s delegation on behalf of its President, Marwan Adamu, said only three out of the 19 members of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union was present.

He said the union’s president, Mr Adamu, had an accident on his way to the meeting with the CJN.

Mr Musa said he would table the CJN’s “fatherly advice” before JUSUN’s NEC meeting.

Financial autonomy

The financial autonomy is less of a problem for the judiciary which is already a first-line-charge institution in the national budget.

ALSO READ: Judiciary Workers’ Strike: Courts closed in Lagos, Kano, Benue, others

President Muhammadu Buhari on May 22, 2020, signed the Executive Order 10 for the enforcement of the financial autonomy status granted the state legislature and judiciary in the Nigerian Constitution.

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The Executive Order made it mandatory for all states to include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.

The order also mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to the state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state, for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.

But Nigerian governors, who are largely reluctant to grant the two other arms of government their full financial autonomy status, had approached the court to challenge the Executive Order.

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