The Ado-Ekiti branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) insists that the 36 state governors must respect the provisions of the 1999 Constitution on the contending issue of full autonomy for the Judiciary.
The legal body regretted that the closure of courts across the country had not only debased the country’s democracy, but adversely affected the fortunes of the legal practitioners, urging the governors to swiftly accede to the request of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to resolve the conundrum.
The NBA also urged the Federal Government to convene a roundtable discussion, where all stakeholders could meet, ruminate and proffer solutions to the senseless killings and kidnappings of innocent Nigerians.
The NBA, Ado Ekiti Branch, said these in Ado Ekiti at a news conference heralding the 10th Annual Law Week being held in honour of a Legal Icon, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN).
The Branch Chairman, Mr Adeyemi Adewumi who gave the theme of this year’s Law week as: “The 21st Century Lawyer: Integrating Business Skills with Legal Knowledge”, said: “The Courts are shut due to the strike by JUSUN, who are agitating for the implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
“And to attain true separation of powers, the other arms of government; judiciary and legislature must be weaned from the breast of the executive, that is, become independent in all wise, particularly financially.
“This is the only way public perception can become re-engineered towards trust for the judiciary and the legislature.
“Section 81 (1) and 123 of the 1999 Constitution as Amended, guarantees financial autonomy to the judiciary.
“Meanwhile, following the refusal of government to implement this autonomy, JUSUN, and Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, had sued the government in two different cases at the Federal High Court, where both cases were won.
“Pursuant to the judgment, the Federal Government had eventually complied when the President issued the Executive Order 10, which authorised the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct the fund standing with the credit of the judiciary in the consolidated revenue of each state.
“This was challenged by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
“It is a pity that government had allowed this issue to degenerate to the level where courts and legislative houses have to be shut before the right thing is done.
“Thus, the NBA is in solidarity with the demands of JUSUN on financial autonomy for the judiciary, notwithstanding the temporary pains this industrial action may cause to lawyers’ welfare or work.
“We have resolved to stand by them because we believe in this cause for the good of all. We, therefore call on the government of Ekiti and indeed all state governments to attend to this matter with the urgency it deserves.
“Lawyers are the worst hit by the closure of courts and we are calling on government to please adhere to our request.
“They should follow what the law says concerning financial autonomy to the judiciary, this is not even about the executive order, but our Constitution,” he said.
Adewumi said Nigerians and recognised groups should be bold enough to demand justice for those whose lives were being wasted like they did during the protests against the scrapped Special Anti Robbery Squad(SARS).
He added: “We are just praying that something would happen that will stop these senseless killings.
“Government should look into this issue, it is a terrible one and all of us too must be security conscious. We must come to the roundtable, because it is getting bad on daily basis.
“From the North to the South and everywhere, the rate of banditry, kidnapping, killings and destruction has skyrocketed without any seemingly clear pathway to curtailing them.
”Despite the efforts of security forces, we still hear of kidnappings and killings on a weekly basis.
“Where do we go from here? Shall we continue to sleep with one eye open? Shall we continue to travel with our hearts in our mouths?”, the NBA boss asked.
Speaking on the Annual Law Week, Adewumi, said the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi would chair the Are Babalola Public Lecture to be delivered by Prof. Tayo Oke.