Secretary, Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary, Senator Ita Enang, has called on State Chief Judges and Head of Courts
to observe caution and due diligence in the implementation of full autonomous judiciary.
Senator Enang who is also the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, made the call while presenting a paper at the National Judicial Institute Roundtable on Effective Court Administration recently in Abuja.
“Let me appreciate the National Judicial Institute for the privilege of this platform to address their Lordships on the patent fears and indeed banana peels on the floor of Autonomy of the Judiciary.
“The best and error-proof process is as provided or will be provided in the Judiciary (funds management) Law or such Legislation by whatever name called passed by the State House of Assembly and Assented to by the Governor guiding the operation and application of Judiciary funds by the Judiciary for the Judiciary to be accounted for by the Judiciary,” he said.
The Presidential Aide also advised them to reference the Fund Management Law already passed and Bills on same pending consideration before the State Assemblies.
Speaking further, Senator Enang
added that “In the Memorandum of action signed in the course of the PASSAN and JUSUN strikes wherein we laid out irreducible minimum in the template as to the proposed content of the Laws, we did have heated arguments and disagreements with the Governors as to Award of Contracts”.
“The tone of that discussion and possible landmine evident thereafter indicates that the Executive or the Governors will be laying land mines for the Judiciary or Heads of courts to fall into and be doomed. Be wise and go for precedence when Statutes leaves loopholes or presents a banana peel,” he cautioned.
He added that “Where there appears a lacuna not covered by the Funds Management Laws, or the convention in other arms of Governments in any matter arising in Course of implementation of Financial autonomy please fall back to the practice adopted by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judiciary bodies at the Federal level in fund management process.
“From budget conception, bilaterals with Budget office, inclusion in the Annual Budget as will be laid before the National Assembly, defence before the mandate committees, passage, Assent, release to the account of the Judiciary, syndication to the different Heads of courts by the National Judicial Council headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, advert for procurement”.
Some of the Chief Judges present at the roundtable, observed that the present budgetary system was inhuman and stressed the need for a more realistic approach to budgeting.
Other issues raised by the Chief Judges were on the need to make input at budgeting level and the process of transmission approval into cash.