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Supreme Court Reserves Judgment As States Seek Refund Of N66bn Spent On Funding Judiciary

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The 36 states of the federation have asked the supreme court to compel the federal government to refund about N66 billion spent on funding courts in the states.

Augustine Alegeh, who represented the states, said this on Monday while making submissions in the suit seeking to quash the presidential executive order 10 of 2020, which mandates state governments to fund the judiciary.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on May 22, signed the order granting financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary in the 36 states of the federation.

The order empowers the accountant-general of the federation to deduct funds for the state legislature and the judiciary from the federal allocations to the states.

In the suit filed by their respective attorneys-general, the states are contending the constitutionality of the executive order.

The plaintiffs said with the executive order, the federal government’s responsibility of funding capital and recurrent expenditures of state high courts, sharia court of appeal and customary court of appeal has been pushed to the state governments.

“Since the 5th of May, 2009, the defendant had not funded the capital and recurrent expenditures of the state high courts, Sharia Court of Appeal and the Customary Court of Appeal of the Plaintiffs’ states, apart from paying only the salaries of the judicial officers of the said courts,” the plaintiffs said in their statement of claim.

“The Plaintiffs’ states have been solely responsible for funding the capital and recurrent expenditures of the state high courts, Sharia Court of Appeal and the Customary Court of Appeal of the Plaintiffs’ states, which the Defendant has failed and/or refused to fund.”

According to them, section 81(3) of the 1999 Constitution, makes provision for the funding of the courts.

“That item 21(e) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution provides that the National Judicial Council (NJC) is to collect from the defendant and disburse all capital and recurrent expenditure in respect of all the courts established under Section 6 of the same Constitution,” the document reads.

“That Section 121(3) of the constitution makes provision for all capital and recurrent expenditures for courts not established under Section 6 of the constitution by the respective plaintiff’s states.”

While adopting their processes before the court, Alegeh argued that salaries, emoluments, remuneration and allowances of judges are not supposed to be in any appropriation bill.

He contended that under section 84(4) of the constitution, as amended, funds for such expenditure are captured in the consolidated revenue fund, not in the budget.

“Our position is that funds meant for the judiciary should be taken from the consolidated revenue fund and handed to the NJC for disbursement to heads of courts as stipulated in section 6 of the constitution,” he said.

“We have to admit to ourselves that what we are practising in this country is constitutional democracy and not true federalism.”

He also told the court that about N66 billion have been spent on the maintenance of state courts.

Responding, Tijani Gazali, counsel to the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), opposed the request of the plaintiffs.

He said executive order 10 was based on a judgment delivered by Adeniyi Ademola, a former judge of a federal high court, in a suit that was filed by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), in which the NJC, the AGF and the attorneys-general of the 36 states, were joined as respondents.

Gazali said since the states never appealed the judgment, the present suit at the apex court is an abuse of court process.

He further pointed out that the issue of salary and emoluments are expressly stated in the constitution as the responsibility of the federal government, but that the section was silent on funding of capital projects.

“We, therefore, urge my lords to dismiss this suit with a reasonable cost,” Gazali said.

However, Alegeh urged the supreme court to discountenance the argument by the AGF.

“This is a dispute between the state and the federal government. The states and the federal government were defendants in the case. The plaintiff was JUSUN,” he said.

“Even if a state had raised this issue before the federal high court, the federal high court would have no jurisdiction to hear the matter because the constitution provides that all disputes between states and federal government are to be determined by the supreme court.”

He also submitted that the judgment at the high court relates to section 121 of the 1999 constitution, “which deals essentially with funding of inferior courts (magistrate courts, area courts), and we have admitted that is our responsibility and we are meeting it”.

“JUSUN cannot raise a dispute between the states and the federal government. Only the states or the federal government can trigger the original jurisdiction to come to the supreme court,” he added.

Meanwhile, five senior advocates of Nigeria, were invited by the supreme court to offer legal opinion on the matter.

Adegboyega Awomolo, Olisa Agbakoba, Sebastian Hon, Mahmud Magaji and Musibau Adetunbi, were the senior advocates who announced their appearances as amicus curiae (friends of the court).

Awomolo, who took the position of the states, said “the defendants have admitted that they have been funding the recurrent expenditure of the states, but did not provide reasons why they have refused to fund the capital expenditure.”

He said it is the responsibility of the federal government to fund both recurrent and capital expenditure.

“My submission is that the presidential executive order 010 is unconstitutional,” Awolowo added.

On his part, Agbakoba said both the states and the federal government have breached the constitution.

He said the act of the Lagos state government in funding its state judiciary is contrary to the provisions of the constitution, but agreed that it is the responsibility of the federal government to fund both the recurrent and capital expenditure of courts.

He, however, maintained that the states are not entitled to a refund.

“Nobody sent them,” he said.

Hon, another SAN, also agreed with Agbakoba and Awomolo.

But Magaji and Adetunbi, in their remarks, said funding of the state judiciary is not the responsibility of the federal government.

The court, thereafter, adjourned the matter till a later date, which will be communicated to the parties involved.

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EndSARS: CNN, Amnesty International Must Apologise To FG -Lai Mohammed

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The Federal Government has demanded an apology from Amnesty International, CNN and DJ Switch for misleading the world that there was a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20, 2020.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made this demand on the occasion of the first year anniversary of the famous #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.

According to the Minister who spoke during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, CNN, Amnesty, and DJ Switch are all guilty of spreading fake news.

Mohammed maintained that there was no massacre of Nigerian youths at the Lekki Toll Gate incident during the protest last year and the trio mentioned only gave false and misleading reports.

The Minister insisted a professional analysis of what transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate revealed that the military didn’t massacre anyone while if truly there was any killing as widely reported, the families of the victims and those affected would have appeared with evidence before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry.

Not done, Lai Mohammed further accused the trio of spreading ‘tales by moonlight’ about what he described as the phantom killings at the Lekki Toll Gate during the EndSARS protests last year.

He said: “…During the sitting, CNN was summoned but it never showed up, thus missing a great opportunity to prove its allegation of massacre at the toll gate. Also, Amnesty International had a golden opportunity to convince the world, but it rather opted for issuing meaningless press releases.”

“In its latest attempt to grasp at straws and redeem whatever is left of its battered credibility on this issue, CNN has continued with its baseless report that soldiers shot at protesters. In a report currently running on the network, CNN brazenly and unashamedly held on to its flawed narrative, relying on an unidentified mother whose son was reportedly shot dead at Lekki, but without convincing evidence of who shot him dead. The same CNN that tweeted on Oct. 23rd 2020 that 38 people were shot dead at Lekki is now struggling to convince the world that one boy was killed at Lekki. What a shame!”

“The testimony of ballistic experts before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in Lagos contradicts the tales by the moonlight by Amnesty International, CNN, a runaway DJ, and their ilk.”

 

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BREAKING: Police Arrest #EndSARSMemorial Protesters At Lekki Tollgate

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Operatives of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested two protesters at the Lekki tollgate where the #EndSARS Memorial Protest is scheduled to hold in the state today.

One of those arrested claimed to be a journalist while the other was seen carrying a placard.

The police had reportedly warned that anyone seen at the tollgate without an ID card will be arrested.

The arrested journalist told newsmen that he works with LegitTV and that his phone, driver’s license and other documents were taken away from him.

Speaking from a Lagos State Task Force van where he was kept by the police, the journalist who identified himself as Abisola stated that he lost his ID card in transit.

About 30 police trucks and armed personnel are currently at the tollgate to enforce a ban on protests issued by the police command.

A car procession in honour of those believed to have lost their lives at the tollgate when soldiers dispersed #EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020, is scheduled to hold at the tollgate today.

What #EndSARS protests were about

The #EndSARS protests which were held in October 2020 were against the activities of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force which was accused of police brutality.

The epicentre of the protests was the Lekki tollgate in Lagos where many youths gathered day and night to air their grievances against police brutality and bad governance.

They were dispersed from the location by gun-wielding soldiers on October 20, 2020, an action which some quarters believe led to the loss of lives.

This was followed by the destruction of private and public properties by hoodlums in Lagos, an incident that informed the latest warning issued by the police in the state.

PUNCH

 

 

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Police Threaten To Punish Inspector For Voting At APC Congress

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The Zone 1 Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Kano, on Tuesday said its attention had been drawn to a trending picture on the social media, of a police inspector casting his vote at the Kano State congress of the All Progressives Congress alongside his principal, the state party chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas.

A statement by the Zonal Public Relations Officer, DSP Abubakar Ambursa, added that the inspector had been identified as Bashir Mohammed of the Special Protection Unit, Base 1, Kano.

According to the statement, the Inspector is attached to the Government House, Kano, from where he was deployed to work with Abbas as a security aide.

“In view of this seemingly unprofessional conduct of the inspector, the AIG (Assistant Inspector General of Police) has referred the matter to the Zonal X-Squad for investigation.

“If the inspector is found to have committed the offence, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against him,” the statement said.

The police assured members of the public that further development on the matter would be communicated.

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