Governors of 36 states of the federation yesterday told the Supreme Court that they had been providing funding for lower courts in their states as provided by law.
Their position was canvassed at the hearing of the originating summons challenging the Executive Order 10 on financial autonomy of the judiciary and legislature signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last year.
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Counsel to the states, Austin Alegeh (SAN), said under Sections 121(3) and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, the states are to maintain the recurrent expenditure of the lower courts of the states; while the federal government would take care of the capital projects of high courts upwards as superior courts of record.
He said while Section 4 of the constitution provided for federal government’s funding of the judiciary; it did not provide for funding of state assemblies.
He said the judgment of a Federal High Court on judicial autonomy in a suit by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria was made without jurisdiction.
SANs Adegboyega Awomolo and Sebastine Hon, invited as friends of the court, agreed to the submission of state governors that the National Assembly Appropriation Act ought to cover both recurrent and capital expenditure of the states’ and federal courts.
But Acting Director, Civil Litigations of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Tijani Gazali (SAN), asked the court to ask the apex court to dismiss the suit with costs as the matter was an abuse of court process having been decided by a Federal High Court without appeal.
The position was supported by SANs Mahmud Magaji and Musibau Adetunbi who are appeared as friends of the court.