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36 States Dragged FG To Supreme Court Over Executive Order 10

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The Attorney-General of the 36 states of the federation have filed a suit at the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of the Presidential Executive Order 10 issued last year to shore up the financial independence of state judiciaries and legislatures.

In the suit which challenges the widely accepted norm that states are to fund their courts, the plaintiffs argue that it is the constitutional duty of the federal government to fund the capital and recurrent expenditures of states’ High Courts, as well as their Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal.

They argued that the Executive Order violated the Nigerian constitution by seeking to compel state governments to fund the recurrent and capital expenditures of state courts, which according to them ought to be that of the federal government.

“It is the plaintiffs’ argument that the Presidential Executive Order No. 00-10 issued by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 22 May 2020 is unconstitutional as the said Executive Order seeks to compel state governments to fund recurrent and capital expenditures of the State High Courts of Appeal, which form part of the courts whose funding is the prerogative of the federal government in line with the provisions of sections 6, 81(3) and item 21(3) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” their brief reads.

The Executive Order empowers the Accountant- General of the Federation to make deductions meant for state judiciaries from the state governments’ allocations and pay them to the National Judicial Council (NJC), which will then remit the deducted funds to the heads of the various state courts.

This, the plaintiffs argue, is against the provisions of sections 6(5), 81(3) and item 21(3) of the Third Schedule of the Nigerian constitution.

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According to them, the constitutional provisions, when read together, “clearly impose and create a constitutional duty, responsibility and obligation” on the federal government “to fund both the capital and recurrent expenditure of the courts established by section 6 of the constitution”.

The courts established under section 6 of the constitution are the High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and the Customary Court of Appeal of states, along with the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs asked the court to not only declare the Executive Order 10 unconstitutional, but to also order the federal government to “fund the capital and recurrent expenditure” of the state courts.

They also sought another order compelling the federal government to refund to the state governments “all the sums they have so far expended in funding the capital expenditure of the High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal”.

The suit, scheduled for hearing at the Supreme Court today (Monday), has the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the federal government’s representative, as the sole defendant.

In its counter- affidavit filed in opposition to the suit, the federal government admits it is its responsibility to undertake recurrent expenditure of the courts only to the extent of paying the remuneration, salaries, and allowances of the judges.

Mr Malami opposed the scope of the recurrent and capital expenditures of the state courts, which the state governments claimed should be the federal government’s responsibility.

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He noted that although the constitution provided for the establishment of states’ High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal “it was the respective state laws which created them that actually set the operations of these courts in motion”.

It is also the state laws, according to the AGF, that confer powers on the courts to make them functional as the states’ courts.

By virtue of this, Mr Malami said “it is no doubt, the duty of the executive arm of government in every state of the federation to fund the recurrent and capital expenditure of the courts.

He also argued that the federal government “could not possibly be held liable to incur any alleged capital and recurrent expenditure” for the various states’ Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal which are at the discretion of state governments to create.

“If a state considers that it, in fact, requires a Customary or Sharia Court of Appeal, the presumption of regularity presupposes that such a state has prepared, evaluated and estimated both the capital and recurrent expenditure that will be necessarily occasioned before committing itself to its establishment and captured same in its annual budget estimates,” he added.
He contended that it would be inequitable for states to demand a refund of alleged expenditures from the federal government.

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“That the federal government has since May 1999 been funding recurrent expenditure of state judiciaries as charged by section 84 of the constitution and captured in the annual budget estimates presented to the National Assembly respectively, in the fiscal years.

“That all capital expenditures are to be captured in the estimate included in the appropriation bill of the state Houses of Assembly,” the counter-affidavit read in part.

He also accused the state governments of “unjustified and indefensible rebellion against the Constitution” by continuing to defy constitutional provisions guaranteeing the independence of the state judiciaries.

He added that despite the constitutional provisions and series of court judgments, state governors had continued to wrongly subject the funding of state judiciaries to executive control.

Mr Malami also defended the constitutionality of the Executive Order 10, which he said was issued by the President “in a bid to fulfill his duty of executing and maintaining the constitution.”

The President sought to achieve this, according to Mr Malami, by directing the Accountant- General of the Federation “to do the needful to ensure the implementation of the constitutional provisions on financial autonomy for state judiciaries

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Top Court News is a product of a dedicated Journalist, owner of I-Wahab Media The Publisher started his Journalism career with Murhi International TV, MiTV in 2003 before working with Radio Nigeria, Lagos Operation, as a Judicial Correspondent. He is presently the Vice Chairman of the National Association of Judicial Correspondent, NAJUC, Ikeja Branch and occupied same office with Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Radio Nigeria Chapel. topcourtnewsng.com is out to serve you with informative and educative News in the Judiciary sector. To put an end to the under reported activities of the sector among the three arms of government

CRIME

PHCN N6bn Insurance Benefit Fraud: EFCC Arraigns Cecilia Osipitan

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Justice U. P. Kekemeke of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, has granted the Managing Director of PJO Ventures Limited, Cecilia Osipitan N500million bail with two sureties in like sum.

The judge gave the bail ruling shortly after her arraignment along with PJO and Insurance Resource and Consultancy Services Limited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

EFCC had filed nine-count charges against the defendants which borders on criminal breach of trust, conspiracy and conversion of public funds to the tune of six billion naira.

According to EFCC, the money was meant for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

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Osipitan’s offence was said to have contravened Section 311 of the Panel Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (Abuja) 2004 and punishable under Section 312 of the same Act.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the nine counts charges levelled against them.

Ruling on the bail application, the judge noted that the sureties must be federal civil servant, a religious leader or a member of the National Assembly residing and own landed properties in Abuja.

The matter was subsequently adjourned till January 20, 2022 for commencement of trial.

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PDP National VC (South-South), Reps Member Restrain from Convention

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Justice Joy Okeaya-Inneh of the Edo State High Court in Benin City has gave a restrain order against the National Vice Chairman (South-South) of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Dan Orbih and the State Secretary of the party, Hilary Otsu from participating in the forthcoming Convention of the party scheduled for October 30th and 31st 2021.

The judge granted the interim injunction while ruling on a motion ex-parte filed by Chief Idehen Manfred Ekundayo, Mr. Stanley Iduoze and Odior Omadimhe (Claimants) in the suit marked B/218/os/2021.

Hon. Samuel Saiki, Vincent Ekpomhoriri Umoru, Leslie Ebozoje, David Okoh Aigbodion (also known as Arizona) and Abdulkareem Kassim were listed as Defendants in the suit.

Others defendants are Kayode Ogunubi, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide Ihama (House of Representatives member representing Oredo Federal Constituency), Mr. Oduwa Igbinosun and Mr. Friday Enaruna, excluding the PDP which was also listed as 12th Defendant in the suit.

Justice Okeaya-Inneh restrained them from attending, participating, or voting at the National Convention of the PDP herein to elect members of its National Working Committee, NWC or an other Governing body, which Convention is fixed for the 30th and 31st of October 2021 or fixed for any any other date, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

Read Also: Ondo Tribunal Throws Out PDP Petition Against Akeredolu

The court also granted “an order of interim injunction, directing PDP, its servants, Officers, agents, or otherwise whosoever to deny admittance to the Defendants at the National Convention or any other day

Justice Okeaya-Inneh ordered PDP to ensure that the Defendants do not vote or participate in any shape or form at the National Convention pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

According to the enrolment order of the court, the judge granted leave to the Claimants to serve the concurrent originating summons on PDP, outside the jurisdiction of the court at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, namely at the National Headquarters of the Party being Plot 1970 Michael Okpara street, Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.

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The court also granted leave to the Claimants/Applicants to serve the originating summons and all other accompanying processes in the suit on all the Defendants by substituted means, to wit, by Advertisement in a National Newspaper.

The court cited the salient pressing issues raised in the processes before the court and ordered an accelerated hearing of the Motion-On-Notice.

The court further directed the Bailiff of the court to effect service as a matter of urgency of “all the processes in the suit on all the Defendants.

Justice Okeaya-Inneh subsequently fixed November 2, 2021 to entertain the suit.

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CRIME

Former NSITF Board Chairman, Olejeme Trial Begins November 8

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Justice Maryam Hassan of Abuja (FCT) High Court sitting in Jabi has fixed November 8, for commencement of trial of the former board chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Ngozi Olejeme.

The judge gave the date shortly after delivering ruling over her bail application which allows her to continue to enjoy the administrative bail conditions already granted to her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Justice Maryam Hassan in addition to the ruling directed that the travel documents of the defendant be submitted at the court’s registry.

Ngozi Olejeme was arraigned before the court by EFCC on nine-count charges which borders on mismanagement, giving a false statement, taking a kickback from contracts, and diversion of NSITF funds into personal accounts and companies she had an interest in.

According to EFCC, Olejeme committed the offence between 2012 and 2015 when she was the board chairman of the NSITF.

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The anti-graft agency noted that the offence contravened the provisions of sections 8,19 (1) (b) (1), punishable under the Corrupt Practice & other Related Offence Act 2000 and Section 17, (1) (2), 39 of EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and punishable under the same section.

However, Olejeme pleaded not guilty to all the counts charge preferred against her.

Subsequently, her counsel, Mr. Paul Erokoro, SAN, applied for bail on self recognition or in the alternative, in the most liberal terms.

He said the bail application was predicated on medical grounds as the defendant has been diabetic and hypertensive for thirty years.

In a counter reaction, EFCC Counsel, Mr. Steve Odiase, who did not opposed the bail application however, opposed to granting of bail on self recognition.

He said that there was no consideration for bail on self recognition in Section 165 (1) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

He urged the court to grant the defendant bail with reasonable surety.

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