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Independence of Judiciary: Buhari speaks, Judiciary budget is N100bn

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja said that the budgetary allocation to the the third arm of government, the Judiciary moved from N68 billion in 2014 to N100 billion as at today, pledging that his administration will continue to adequately fund the judiciary to enable it discharge its responsibilities.

The President also said it is the collective duty of the three arms of government to ensure fair justice delivery and safeguard the rights of all Nigerians.

At least two times within the last one month, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Mohammed had lamented that the Judiciary lacks financial autonomy and freedom. Justice Mohammed mentioned this his speech at the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in August. Also, last week at the ceremony of the new legal year wear new Senior Advocates were sworn in, Justice Mohammed also harped on the financial independence of the Judiciary.

The CJN had said: “I am using this medium to appeal to governments at all levels to free the judiciary from the financial bondage it has been subjected over the years;

If you say that I am independent, but in a way, whether I like it or not, I have to go cap in hand, asking for funds to run my office, then I have completely lost my independence;

“It is like saying a cow is free to graze about in the meadow but at the same time, tying it firmly to a tree. Where is the freedom?” The third arm of government remained in a financial bondage. When we assess the judiciary from the financial perspective, how free can we say we are?”, the CJN asked.

It was therefore President Buhari’s first opportunity to respond to the remarks of the CJN. The President spoke at the commissioning of the annex building of the headquarters of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Area 3, Abuja, which also marked the valedictory session for the retirement of  the President of the Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo.

President Buhari said: ‘‘You will all recall that in 2014, the entire budgetary allocation to the judiciary was N68 billion. Today, the judiciary budgetary allocation has gone up to N100 billion. Rest assured that we shall continue to adequately fund the judiciary to ensure it is enabled to discharge its responsibilities.’’

The Nigerian President used the occasion to appeal to the three arms of government to continue collaborative partnership to ensure that policies, programmes and projects of this administration positively impact the lives of Nigerians.

‘‘Simply put, all Nigerians, regardless of ethnicity, religion and politics deserve peaceful and prosperous lives. Where these basic rights are trampled upon, Nigerians deserve fair justice delivery.

‘‘It is, therefore, our collective duty to work collaboratively to ensure that such rights are safeguarded,’’ he said.

Congratulating the President of the Court on his retirement and meritorious service to the country, the President said Justice Adejumo’s numerous contributions are well known and appreciated.

‘‘I am confident his legacy will have a positive impact on those who follow him,’’ he said.

Speaking on the mandate of the Court, the President recalled that it was established as a specialised Court to adjudicate on disputes arising from and relating to labour, industrial and employment matters.

‘‘Indeed, it is the Court in Nigeria that is constitutionally mandated to perform these functions. Thus, the performance of this court directly impacts Nigeria’s ease of doing business indices,’’ he said.

The President noted that the completion of the Annex Building will further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of justice delivery by the Court.

‘‘Furthermore, the socio-economic impact of this Court cannot be downplayed as it also provides the platform for employees, retirees as well as the dependents of deceased employees to find justice when treated unfairly,’’ he added.

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