From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Oba Maduabuchi (SAN) has appealed to the striking Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to suspend its action and rather commence contempt proceedings against members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The constitutional lawyer who spoke to Daily Sun lamented that the strike has crippled the nation’s judiciary at both the state and federal levels.
Meanwhile, Maduabuchi said President Muhammadu Buhari has failed Nigerians by his failure to address the perennial issues of insecurity, epileptic power and fuel crisis.
JUSUN members embarked on the nationwide strike on April 6 in agitation for the judiciary’s financial freedom from the executive, particularly at the state level, where the state governors only fund the two other arms of government as they please.
Although series of meetings spearheaded by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, the Federal Government’s negotiation team led by the labour minister, Chris Ngige, and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), have been held with JUSUN leaders over the crisis, it has rejected the 36 state governors’ proposed template for the implementation of judiciary’s financial autonomy being demanded by the workers.
The governors, in their proposal, seek the creation of a State Account Allocation Committee (SAAC) to oversee the distribution of funds to the three arms of government at the state level.
But in a communique the union issued after a May 8 meeting of its National Working Committee (NWC), the union insisted on its demand that funds meant for the state judiciaries must be deducted directly from the federation account and paid to the heads of courts through the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The union insisted that all the state judiciaries’ funds for October 2020 till May 2021 must be deducted directly from source, the federation account, and paid to the heads of courts through the NJC as prescribed by the constitution.
Speaking on the protracted stike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), said the strike was a needless exercise.
He said rather than locking down the whole courts, JUSUN would have filed contempt proceedings against those who disobeyed the order of court.
He however blamed the state governors who he accused of playing god on the issue.
“There was no need for the strike. There is a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction that monies meant for the Judiciary must be given to them. Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court (now retired), gave that judgment.
“Governors do not operate the constitution of Nigeria. It is not the governors that will implement that section of the constitution that guarantees Independent of the Judiciary. That section of the constitution is supposed to be implemented by members of the Finance Allocation Committee (FAC), the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“These are the people whose duties it is to implement the judgment of Justice Ademola. When a court makes an order and it is not obeyed, what follows? The person who the order of court is in his favour knows what to do or his lawyer. Issue Form 48 to all members of FAC, AGF, Minister of Finance and the CBN Governor,for them to show cause why contempt proceedings cannot be moved against them. You follow it up with Form 49 to say court, send them to jail for disobeying your orders.
“You don’t need a strike. It is the same judiciary that will hear the contempt proceedings and there’s no Judge that will not grant the application. It’s as simple as that. You don’t need to lock up the entire courts in the country.”
Oba who spoke on the insecurity in the country blamed the president Buhari administration for it’s failure to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians.
“For the past 22 years or so, security, power and fuel are the perennial problems in this country. So, a government that does not tackle these three issues must consider itself a failure. If you are in power for eight years and you are unable to solve one of these problems, then, automatically you are a failure. If you came to power and met the country insecured and you did not secure it. If you came to power and electricity is epileptic, refineries are not working after eight years in office, how do you call yourself a success? What is the perimeter for determining that you are a success. It’s unfortunate, but that is the truth.
But if I may zero it on security, I blame government and I also blame Nigerians. I find it difficult to understand how 200 hundred motorcycles can travel for 5 km speed for two hours, in a secondary school, kidnapped students and ride back into the bush and nobody says he knows where they are, then it’s unfortunate. That is to tell you that they are being protected by the locals. Because, if you take off, for instance from Abuja in a convoy and you are going to Maraba, before you get to AYA, somebody must definitely see you before you arrived at Maraba. Somebody must see them and make a report to security agencies. If the security agencies did not react, the person who made the report will come out and say but I reported this movement to the security agencies. That I called but you did not respond, at that point, Nigerians will now know who to blame.
But when the bandits come and you see them pass and you sit down because they have passed your village, so you don’t care and did not report how do you expect the security agencies to know and respond. Security men are not spirits or magicians the work with information. If you don’t tell them what is happening in your locality, how do you want them to react?
Having said that, the security agencies must also up their game through the use of surviliance and Intelligent reports. How do you expect the country to be secured when the policemen and army are on the road collecting N50 from motorist? Security in Nigeria as far as the police is concern is checking particulars of vehicles on the road. Once you cannot stop the movement of arms from one point to another, we are wasting our time.
He attributed the current insecurity in the South East, culminating into the killings and burning of police stations, especially Imo and Anambra to the ineptitude of our security agencies.
“The Imo state police command should go and hide itself in shame. You are supposed to provide security to the people and the first place the militants overran is your headquarters. The first place the people that you are going after to arrest and prosecute, what they did first is to walk into your headquarters and overwhelmed you. So how does anybody talk of safety again.
” So the first thing the acting Inspector General of Police need is that police must change their altitude. He should instill discipline in the police and stop repeating the same 40 years old Strategy that is not working. Overall, we have to change the orientation of our security personnel to understand their constitutional responsibilities. All these Special Forces on this and that is not working and citizens are being killed on daily basis.”