Supreme Court To Rule On Judiciary Funding, EO 10 On Tuesday

Supreme Court To Rule On Judiciary Funding, EO 10 On Tuesday

The Supreme Court will on December 7 deliver judgment in the case filed by the 36 state governments against the Federal Government over the dispute on the funding of superior courts in the states and the legality of the Executive Order 10 issued by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It was learnt on Sunday that parties have since been issued notices by the court’s Registry informing them about the planned judgment.

The states filed the suit in the name of their Attorneys General, with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), who is representing the Federal Government, listed as the sole defendant.

On October 4 this year, a seven-member panel of the court, led by Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad had, after taking final submissions from lawyers to parties and the five amici curiae invited, announced that judgment was reserved till a date to be communicated to parties.

While the states are contending, among others, that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to bear the capital and recurrent expenditure of all courts created under Section 6 of the Constitution, the Federal Government thinks otherwise.

The states, who are the plaintiffs, equally want the court to void the Executive Order 10 issued by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020 on the funding of the Judiciary, particularly at the state level.

The plaintiffs argued that the Executive Order 10 violates sections 6 and 8(3) Constitution, which they claimed, makes it the responsibility of the Federal Government to fund the courts created by Section 6 of the Constitution.

The states are arguing that the Executive Order 10 had pushed the funding of capital and recurrent expenditures of the courts named in the Constitution, including State High Courts, Sharia Court of Appeal, and the Customary Court of Appeal, from the Federal Government to them (state governments).

They also want a refund of about N66 billion, being the estimate of what they claimed to have expended in funding superior courts in their state.

Arguing the plaintiffs’ case on October 4, their lawyer, Augustine Alegeh (SAN) stated that the current practice where the Federal Government has limited itself to funding only the recurrent expenditure of superior courts in states was a violation of the Constitution.

Alegeh argued that since the salaries, remuneration and allowances of judges were already charged in the Consolidated Fund of the Federation, they do not form part of the annual appropriation (budget), which should cover the capital expenditure of the federal courts and superior courts in the various states.

He urged the court to discountenance the defendant’s objection to the competence of the suit and the court’s jurisdiction to hear it.

Alegeh also prayed the court to grant the nine reliefs the plaintiffs sought in the case.

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