BY BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
Former Nigeria Bar Association, NBA President and human rights lawyer, Olisa Agbakoba, has dragged the National Assembly, Attorney-General of the Federation and National Judicial Council, NJC, before a Federal High Court over poor funding of the judiciary.
In an originating summons filed by his counsel, Mr. Chijioke Emeka, Agbakoba is asking for implementation of provisions of the Constitution that granted Judiciary’s expenditures the status of “first line charge”.
Agbakoba raised five questions for determination by the court, on the interpretation of Sections 81(1}(2}(3), 84(2)(3)(7) and 162(9) of the 1999 Constitution. He urged the court to determine that judiciary’s budget ought to be taken by the NJC straight to the National Assembly for appropriation as against the practice of taking it to the budget office under the presidency.
He argued that apart from independent budgeting, funds belonging to the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund ought to be released directly to the NJC in whole for disbursement for the needs of the courts as against the practice of release of funds in warrants by the Executive Arm to the Judiciary.
In a 22 paragraphs affidavit supporting the suit, Agbakoba pointed out that the Executive has placed a ceiling on Judiciary’s budget, which he alleged has declined from N90 billion to N75 billion down to N65 billion in the current budget.
NBA former president blamed, “the poor state of court rooms, poor motivation of judges, frequent strikes by Judiciary staff, uncertain pension for Judges and corruption in the Judiciary on the failure of the defendants in the suit to comply with the provisions of the Constitution on independent and adequate funding of the Judiciary.”