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Is Nigeria Judiciary under attack? (Part 2)

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THE National Assembly which have culminated in the multiple prosecutions for alleged forgeries of both the senate president and his deputy. Dr Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP who became Deputy Senate President thus upstaging the apples carte is ferociously attacked from the Presidency even as a charge of forgery of Senate Rules has been foisted around his neck in an attempt to unseat him for becoming the first ever Deputy head of the Legislature at the center from a seemingly minority party.

Ironically, the Federal House of Representatives headed by Speaker Yakubu Dogara is yet to witness any of these subterranean plots to undermine the authority of the house leaders as is the case with their counterparts in the senate of the Federal Republic.

The judiciary has also played this politics of appeasement with the executive arm of government to such an extent that even when President Buhari failed to comply with bail orders to release the detained leader of the indigenous people of Biafra Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and the erstwhile National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki the Nigerian court system failed to take action to stem the tidal waves of the emasculation of the judicial powers of the federation which is truly theirs in line with the constitution. For instance the court system in Nigeria would have proceeded on strike to press home their righteous indignation over the erosion of her constitutional powers as done by the president who is the head of the executive arm of government. Rather the courts have continued to hear not just those cases involving the two litigants whose human rights were violated and the powers of the courts overlooked, but the Nigerian Judiciary has continued to work as if nothing untoward had happened. Sensing that the leadership of the Nigerian court system has fallen into the error of playing politics of appeasement in which the Appeaser is seen as someone who feeds the crocodile hoping that it would be the last to be eaten up, the President has since fired a salvo from far away Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the last African Union meeting by categorically telling the World that the Judiciary is the main problem of Nigeria.

Smarting triumphantly from this attack on the credibility of the Nigerian Judiciary, it would seem that the judiciary is facing another barrage of attack from the Executive forces.

The Judiciary has raised alarm of deliberate starvation of fund to operate making the National Judicial Council incapable of meeting necessary financial obligations even when the constitution conferred financial independence on the Judiciary.

ALSO SEE: Is Nigeria judiciary under attack?

The prize for unnecessary appeasement is that Judicial officers, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, Supreme Court Justices, justices of the Court of Appeal and all Federal and state High Court judges, are yet to get their January salaries, it was learnt recently.

February’s pay falls due last week but the over 600 judges seem not to have any hope of getting paid.

The development as rightly observed has affected workers in the Judiciary in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal Federal High Court, National Industrial Court and the National Judicial Council.

Only workers in the state Judiciary in the 36 states have been lucky. Is this another sinister way of seeking to erode the judicial powers of the federation which by right belongs to the Court system?

Interestingly, the Judiciary is on First Line Charge, its allocation for January has not been released due to lack of funds.

It was gathered by reporters that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has made representations to the Executive to release the votes in the First Line Charge but the request was still being considered as at press time.

The 600 judges affected include Supreme Court(15), Court of Appeal(85), Federal High Court(88) and National Industrial Court(19).

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Most of the judges are said to be grumbling because they cannot meet their basic needs. The law forbids them from engaging in any trade.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The CJN and over 600 judges are stranded because they have not been paid since January. The allocation due to NJC for the payment of salaries and allowances of Judicial officers is yet to be released.

“Most of the judges are unhappy but they cannot complain due to their Judicial Oath.

The non-payment of salary has affected workers in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal Federal High Court, National Industrial Court and the National Judicial Council.“We appeal to the Executive to look at this delay in payment of salary.
• Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.

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