Law Editors of Nigeria(LEDAN) on Monday added its voice into the growing pressure on Nigerian governors to honour the words and letters of the constitution by granting the fiscal independence of the judiciary in their respective states.
In a press release signed by the President of LEDAN, Mr John Unachukwu, and General Secretary, Mustapha Ogunsakin, the association reminded the governors that the services of the judiciary is for everyone, including them, whether in or out of office.
Below is the text of the press release:
“Law Editors Association of Nigeria ( LEDAN), is worried about the state of the nation’s judiciary and this has compelled us to add our voice on the need for those elected by the people, particularly the 36 state governors in Nigeria to respect the law as it concerns independence of the Judiciary;
For the second week, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has been on a nationwide strike to compel the Federal Government and 36 state governors of the Federation of Nigeria to comply with the law and obey the relevant provisions of Nigerian constitution, the Executive Order of the President and decisions of our courts on the fiscal independence and autonomy of the Judiciary;
It is on record that the governors for inexplicable reason(s) have refused to comply with extant laws, leaving the state of our judiciary in comatose. This is despite the fact that the administration of the justice system of the country has its own peculiar challenges that have over time resulted into the Nigerian people substantially losing confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man;
The disastrous effect of the JUSUN strike can be best imagined. Thousands of Awaiting Trial Inmates who are languishing in our correctional centres have had their trials not only delayed, but their time in jail elongated unnecessarily. Commercial disputes that are meant for urgent adjudication are put on hold and several businesses local and international, are delayed and in some cases truncated because the avenue for the resolution of their disputes have been shut down. Yet, the same governors responsible for this chaos on the judicial system canvass for foreign investments in their respective states everyday;
JUSUN is not asking for pecuniary gains for its members, but what will benefit every citizen, including the governors;
It is apposite to remind the governors that Sections 81 (3) and 121 (3) of the Constitution of Nigeria, grant financial autonomy to both Federal and State Judiciaries in the Federation. These constitutional provisions have been judicially tested in our courts in the following cases:
JUDICIARY STAFF UNION OF NIGERIA VS NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL & GOVERNORS OF THE 36 STATES in (SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/667/13);
OLISA AGBAKOBA VS FG, THE NJC & NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (SUIT NO. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013); and
OLISA AGBAKOBA VS AG, EKITI STATE & 2 OTHERS (SUIT NO. NAD/56/2013)
In obedience to the constitution and judicial decisions, President Muhammadu Buhari issued Executive Order 10 of 2020, wherein he directed for the implementation of the financial autonomy for the judiciary.
However, just like the governors ignored the President’s Executive Order on Local Government Autonomy, they are also breaching the laws relating to the Judicial Autonomy.
LEDAN is pleading with Nigerian State Governors to move Nigeria forward, obey the rule of law, stop this assault and impunity on the laws of the land. They should remember that some of them are Governors today courtesy of judicial intervention, they too need the judiciary if not today, then sometime in future. The present crop of governors will have cause, whether as individuals, or representatives of their states, to rely on the same judiciary for the resolution of conflicts.
It amounts to cutting one’s nose to spite the face for the governors to sabotage a system that they need its services whether now or in the future. It is, therefore, in their own enlightened interest to comply with the extant laws on the independence of the judiciary and we urge them to do so now.
We also call on media organisations to join LEDAN in solidarity to put pressure on the governors over this very crucial issue. This is not the time that the media should sit on the fence. Ours is a developing country and all hands must be on the deck to make things right.
The Law Editors Association of Nigeria (LEDAN) is an association of journalists that have covered and reported the administration of justice system, particularly the courts in Nigeria for not less than twenty years and risen in their careers to the position of editors and publishers of their individual news platforms. While some of their members are independent, some others are in the employment of news organisations across the country.
Our objectives, which we have been very discreet about, include reporting proceedings of courts objectively, ensuring the liberty and rights of Nigerians rich or poor using the courts and fighting for the obedience of court orders, injunctions, judgments and compliance with the rule of law”.
John E. Unachukwu – President
Mustapha Ogunsakin – General Secretary