Judiciary workers drag Kogi Gov, CJ to court over unremitted funds

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello [Photo Credit: The News Nigeria]
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello [Photo Credit: The News Nigeria]

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) Kogi State chapter has dragged Governor Yahaya Bello, the Chief Judge (CJ) Justice Nasir Ajanah and seven others, before the National Industrial Court, sitting in Lokoja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that JUSUN instituted the case alleging constitutional breach and non-remittance of funds accruing to the state Judiciary, which led to eight months accumulated salary arrears of workers and the union’s subsequent strike.

In the originating summons filed at the court by Moses Enwere, Counsel to JUSUN, on Tuesday, in Lokoja, the union said it went to court as a last resort.

It alleged that the state government did not make any concrete effort towards resolving the impasse that necessitated the strike, which it embarked on since December 2018.

Other defendants in the matter include; the Attorney-General of the state, the Commissioner for Finance, the Accountant-General, the Auditor-General, the Grand Khadi, the President of the Customary Court of Appeal and the state’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The union posed three fundamental questions among others for determination of the court.

They include: “Whether Kogi State Judiciary is not entitled to, as of right, certain amounts in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state?

“Is the fund payable to the heads of courts in line with Section 231(3) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and Section 5 of the Kogi State Public Finance (Judiciary Special Provisions) Law No 6 of 1991?

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“Whether the governor and his appointees, joined in the case have the power or right to withhold the Judiciary’s funds and thereby failing in the payment of monthly salaries, allowances and emoluments of judiciary staff.

“Whether the Executive arm can place such conditions as staff screening, staff data capturing, table payment or any other condition, as a prerequisite for the release of the funds without respect for the doctrine of Separation of Powers, as envisaged by the constitution the Kogi State Public Finance Law?’’

The union also urged the court to determine whether the Executive arm had the powers or constitutional right to usurp the powers of the JSC, by scheming to take over payment of judiciary staff salaries and other emoluments without reference to and approval of the Commission.

It also sought the determination of the Industrial Court whether on the other hand, the Chief Judge and other heads of courts had received any subvention since July 1, 2018, and have refused to pay the salaries and emoluments of staff.

JUSUN therefore urged the court to declare that subject to the provisions of the constitution and laws of Kogi State, amounts standing to the credit of Kogi State Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state, be paid directly to the heads of courts.

It also urged the court to declare that the Executive lacked the power to withhold funds accruing to the Judiciary, and its continued refusal to remit such funds were unconstitutional, illegal, ultra vires, wrong, null and void; and of no effect.

The union further asked for an order of the court directing the full payment of the accumulated eight months subvention owed the three courts and the JSC.

JUSUN also urged the court to restrain the executive from “taking steps that tend towards usurping the powers of the JSC in terms of payment of emoluments and discipline of judiciary staff’’.

The Originating summon was supported by a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Emmanuel Waniko, JUSUN Chairman in the state.

Mr Waniko had declared that the staff could no longer afford transport to work and were neither credit worthy to enable them fulfill their responsibilities.

The court is yet to give a date for commencement of hearing in the matter.

(NAN)

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